Almost seven years ago, in 2014 NRG Energy Inc. proposed the Puente Power Project, a new gas-fired power plant on the beach of Ventura County. The project almost never happened. All thanks to the local community that fought the prospect of another industrial facility in its backyard encroaching upon their beaches.
“It is a testament to what happens when communities say we want something better for the future, something better for our children,” said Councilwoman Carmen Ramirez, who has been vocal in her opposition to the power plant. Years-long community push successfully stopped the proposed gas Peaker Plant near the beach and was ultimately rewarded with a giant battery energy storage solution (BESS).
Let’s start from the beginning!
2014: Southern California Edison, needed a new source of power to keep the lights on because several older plants are continuously shutting down. Hence, proposed to build a new natural gas-powered plant on the beach in Oxnard, California.
But the people of Oxnard, did not want another industrial facility near their beaches. They already had two power plants and a Superfund site eating up their stretch of shoreline. Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE) led the protest and asked people to show up for the hearing. The city council joined the people of Oxnard and temporarily blocking new power plant construction on the coast.
2015: Protesters not only rallied against the proposed gas plant but also participated in the hearing against NRG (Gas Plant Developer) at CPUC in December 2015. Clean energy providers also turned out in force.
2016: Despite huge local objections, the power plant regulators approved Puente’s contract in June 2016.
As local ordinance failed to stop the plant, city leaders spent around half a million dollars to fight Puente in the ongoing regulatory process before California Energy Commission.
2017: People became really frustrated. In January 2017, around 30 young campaigners shut down a California Energy Commission (CEC) meeting by standing up and chanting “No more power plants; we say no,” until officials from the regulator and NRG left the room.
That civil disobedience attracted broader media attention, and after a month state senators signed a letter expressing “deep concern” about Puente’s coastal setting. It set the stage for another deviation from the normal process.
In April 2017, the California Independent System Operator, which oversees grid operations, offered to study clean alternatives to the gas plant. The CEC finally allowed it in June 2017, to further inform their own decision and in last the study concluded that renewables and energy storage could do the job of the proposed gas plant.
2018: By the time plans for Puente could be developed, the clean energy industry grew up exponentially. The Golden State had also passed some laws committing to 100% clean energy by 2045.
When regulators called for a fresh look at Puente, they had many other options. What they selected contains 100-megawatt battery storage from developer Strata Solar.
Clean grid trendsetter
Gas currently plays a pivotal role in California’s grid. A few years ago, we enjoyed an abundance of midday solar but suffer a dearth of evening power. Gas plants ramp up to keep the grid supplied when the sunsets. Then comes the battery! Now the new normal is solar plants that fill up batteries to serve evening demand.
When the Oxnard battery project was initially proposed, it flouted the conventions of grid planning. Since then, California’s clean grid transition has followed Oxnard’s lead.
The recently went online 100 megawatt/400 megawatt-hour Saticoy battery storage system features a total of 142 Megapacks, which is capable of delivering enough power to run the coastal city of Oxnard, California. The project is called Saticoy Battery Storage System. After developing the site, Strata sold the project to Arevon, an affiliate of Capital Dynamics.
To decarbonize the grid, California has to stop building new fossil fuel plants, then find a way to close existing ones. Unfortunately, wind or solar power cannot dispatch on-demand, that’s why storage plays a crucial role in the future of the grid.
No other states have built batteries as enthusiastically as California. CAISO said that this rapid deployment will greatly aid California’s ability to meet its peak demand for energy and keep lights on. So, what are you waiting for? Call Staten solar and ask for your customized solar + storage solution. Call us today!