by Julian Spector
June 17, 2020

San Diego Gas & Electric, the smallest of California’s investor-owned utilities, took an early lead in energy storage asset ownership in response to a crisis.

In 2016, after the record gas leak from the Aliso Canyon storage facility, state authorities determined that Southern California needed new sources of capacity by the following summer to avoid a shortfall. The timeline was tight for grid infrastructure development, and further complicated by the fact that the gas constraints ruled out the go-to resource for peak power. Instead, SDG&E chose lithium-ion batteries.

“SDG&E really early on identified that storage could be built quickly, located in places that would be advantageous to their system,” said John Zahurancik, COO of Fluence, which supplied storage to the utility. “It was quite amazing to watch storage go from people talking about it as a potential future solution, to ‘We need to put it in the ground now as part of an emergency procurement.’”