Southern California Edison wants its new, huge 770 MW battery storage procurement online fast

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Southern California Edison (SCE) signed seven contracts for a total of 770 megawatts of lithium-ion battery-based energy storage — to enhance the regional grid’s reliability and replace four large coastal once-through cooling plants.

It’s one of the nation’s largest energy storage procurements and an indication of utility acceptance of massive-scale battery storage. Late last year, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) urged California’s power providers and community choice aggregators to procure 3.3 GW of storage and PV-plus-storage systems to solve grid congestion and to compensate for gas and coal plant retirements.

Remarkably, SCE wants these energy storage resources online by August 2021, an aggressive timeline unthinkable for any type of fossil fuel project of this size.

Most of the winning storage projects are co-located with nearby solar power plants to charge the battery over the term of the contract, help integrate renewable energy into the grid, and furnish resource adequacy during peak demand.

SCE claims these solar-plus-storage projects, located at the same point of interconnection, will be the first of their kind on California’s grid.

Dispatchable solar and wind?

In an era of plunging battery costs, these awards point to the end of intermittent renewables and the dawn of dispatchable solar and wind.

Southern Power, a subsidiary of U.S. utility Southern Company, was awarded two projects, both coupled with PV plants owned by Canadian Solar’s Recurrent Energy.

  • 88 MW/352 MWh Garland Project
  • 72 MW/288 MWh Tranquility Project

NextEra was awarded:

  • 115 MW/460 MWh Blythe 2
  • 115 MW/460 MWh Blythe 3
  • 230 MW/920 MWh  McCoy project connected to NextEra’s 250 MW McCoy solar farm

TerraGen was awarded the 50 MW/200 MWh Sanborn project and LS Power won a stand-alone 100 MW/400 MWh storage project.

These projects are located across Southern California’s Kern, Fresno, Riverside and San Diego counties. The projects have terms varying from 10 years to 20 years. SCE serves 15 million people in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.

“These new emissions-free projects will help us ensure the reliability of the grid for our customers and integrate an ever-increasing amount of clean renewable energy over the next decade,” said William Walsh, SCE VP of energy procurement and management.

The winning contracts will require CPUC approval. SCE expects to submit the contracts for approval later this month.