California's PG&E announces first 75 MW of storage contracts

Californian utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has presented its first 75 MW of energy storage contracts as part of its target of delivering 580 MW of storage in California by 2020.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has created a program called the Energy Storage Decision, which compels investor-owned utilities such as PG&E to procure 1,325 MW of storage by 2020.

Thus, PG&E has secured its first found of storage contracts as part of the utility’s commitment to clean energy. The 75 MW of contracts comprise seven projects, of which four are lithium-ion battery projects (accounting for 42 MW), two are zinc/air battery storage projects (13 MW) and one is a flywheel project (20 MW), which is a first for PG&E.

The first of these projects is due to come online in May 2017, and these seven were chosen after PG&E reviewed numerous applications submitted over the past 12 months from vendors interested in participating in California’s push for more storage. In December 2014 the utility put out a request for offers (RFO) to solicit proposals for storage projects.

As renewables penetrate deeper into the state’s power supply, the issue of storage is increasingly a hot topic. PG&E calculates that by the end of this year some 30% of its retail electric deliveries will be derived from renewable sources. With greater levels of storage, CPUC will be able to integrate more of the clean energy capacity being added by the solar PV and wind industries.

"PG&E support the state’s efforts to enable energy storage to play its appropriate role in the California electric grid to support the integration of utility-scale and customer-connected renewables, and is excited to take this first step in implementing these goals," said PG&E SVP for energy policy and procurement, Fong Wan.