Most people would agree we need to move on from fossil fuels. Talk is of ‘a brave new world’ of renewables and storage batteries. However as long as the dollar is king in America there must be an economic argument too. Los Angeles seems to be making dollar sense of this. That’s because it wants to phase out three natural gas generators by 2029.
So Storage Will Only Start Making Dollar Sense Then?
To an extent yes. Take the Scattergood Generating Station in El Segundo, California. Its owner, Los Angeles Department of Water Power already has 42% natural gas in its power mix, followed by 15% hydro and 4% renewables. Coal is still on 15% but that is set to change.
Its March 2018 report promises to transition to 100% clean energy over time. It hopes to reach 33% by 2020. However it is not making dollar sense to kill off the 823-megawatt Scattergood plant overnight. Especially as it has been displacing coal since 1958, and is a trustworthy alternative when wind and sun are offline. Los Angeles needs its renewable energy in place first.
The Bigger Picture: the Road Ahead for Los Angeles
The City also has two much smaller natural gas power plants that will phase out by 2029. The California regulator approved similar plans by California utility Pacific Gas & Electric. Los Angeles Department of Water Power’s plans include a new 730 megawatt battery storage project.
This future renewable battery storage facility will be able to deliver the peak loading supply the natural gas currently provides. The City cannot afford to be without this resource; hence a staged approach is making dollar sense for it right now. However, the question is, where to from here in terms of energy source.
Gas power stations make electricity and distribute it, while battery storage only preserves energy generated by others. It might make more economic sense to smooth peaks with improved incentives while we wait. That’s a topic for another day.
Preview Image: Scattergood Generating Station in El Segundo, California