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by Julian Spector
May 07, 2019

The Puente gas plant procurement, which wrapped up at the end of April, captures the energy storage industry's maturation in one tidy story.

The saga kicked off in 2013, when utility Southern California Edison began looking for capacity to replace coastal gas plants slated for retirement. At the time, storage was just coming on the scene, but there were few developers and the economics for battery power plants were very much up in the air.

At the time, NRG's Puente gas plant handily won the procurement for reliability in the Oxnard region. No large storage projects even competed. The locals in Oxnard didn't like the idea of a new gas plant taking up space on their coastline, but plenty of gas plants had overcome local opposition before.

Fast-forward to 2019 and the gas plant vanished from the picture, replaced in the end by a portfolio of battery systems spanning a 100-megawatt behemoth down to tiny residential batteries. The host community is happy, SoCal Edison is happy, the grid wonks at the California Independent System Operator are happy, and the clean energy industry scored a major victory.

This outcome was looking likely for the last year or so, but it's worth pausing at this time to reflect on how improbable this series of events was when the story got started.