Southern California Edison Contracts Mammoth 770MW Energy Storage Portfolio to Replace California Gas Plants

Southern California Edison has signed seven contracts for a combined 770 megawatts of battery energy storage projects, one of the biggest single procurements of its kind. The utility also wants to turn them on by August 2021, which would be a record-fast turnaround for projects of that magnitude.  

The seven projects, which still need approval from the California Public Utilities Commission, will help meet a fall CPUC  order for 3.3 gigawatts  of carbon-free resources to help meet the state’s grid reliability needs. Half of that solicitation is due online by August 2021, and SCE must deliver the largest share among the state’s utilities and community choice aggregators (CCAs). 

Most of the winning projects will be co-located with existing solar farms that will charge the batteries, making them useful for integrating and smoothing the intermittency of the state’s growing share of renewable generation, as well as providing resource adequacy (RA) for times of peak demand in the late afternoons and evenings. That’s needed to replace grid capacity provided by four natural gas-fired power plants on the Southern California coast that use seawater for cooling, and have been ordered to close as soon as possible to reduce their environmental impact. 

SCE's single 770-megawatt procurement "tops the entire 2019 US storage market by more than 200 megawatts," said Daniel Finn-Foley, head of energy storage for Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables. The consultancy expects the U.S. storage market to grow by more than 7 times from 2019 to 2021.

"The storage market is approaching a deployment acceleration over the next two years that will be unprecedented in recent U.S. electricity history," Finn-Foley said. 

NextEra Energy Resources will build three of the SCE projects, which are also the largest of the seven selected by the utility. Those include a 230 megawatt/920 megawatt-hours project connected to NextEra’s 250-megawatt McCoy solar farm, and two projects of 115 megawatts/460 megawatt-hours apiece adjacent to NextEra’s two Blythe Solar Energy Center solar farms. All are located in Riverside County.  

The McCoy storage project is among the largest being developed by NextEra, just behind its 250-megawatt/1 gigawatt-hour system connected to its  250-megawatt Sonoran Energy Center  in Arizona.  It’s also the second-largest being built in California, behind the 300-megawatt/1.2 gigawatt-hour  Moss Landing project  to be built by Vistra Energy for Pacific Gas & Electric. NextEra, North America’s leading wind and solar generator, has been seeking opportunities to  add storage to its existing renewables  fleet to take advantage of the falling battery costs. 

Southern Power, a subsidiary of U.S. utility Southern Company, will develop two projects in California’s Central Valley connected to solar farms owned by Canadian Solar subsidiary Recurrent Energy: the 88-megawat/352 megawatt-hour...