The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Thursday voted unanimously to increase the amount of natural gas stored at the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility in Los Angeles County to 41 Bcf to provide adequate winter supplies for gas and electric customers.

Aliso

The decision, said regulators, allows Aliso operator Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) to “meet the existing needs and maintain energy reliability in the Los Angeles Basin while the CPUC continues to consider what actions, resources and infrastructure are needed to close the facility.”

CPUC has been reviewing whether to close Aliso for several months.

In approving the proposal of assigned Commissioner Martha Guzman Aceves, the CPUC set the amount of working gas storage capacity in the field to an interim level of 41 Bcf to ensure SoCalGas can meet “minimum reliability needs for the region.” That compares with a proposal that would have set the capacity to 68.6 Bcf, the maximum amount allowed by the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM).

“Our decision today helps ensure energy reliability for the Los Angeles Basin this winter in a safe and reliable manner,” Guzman Aceves said. “We continue to move forward on planning how to reduce or eliminate the use of Aliso Canyon, and to ultimately reduce our reliance entirely on such natural gas infrastructure as we transition to a clean energy economy.”

The decision is part of a regulatory proceeding to determine the feasibility of closing Aliso and to determine “the most effective way to maintain energy reliability if it is closed.”

Regulators also acted to reduce the need for Aliso in other venues. In mid-August, the CPUC’s Integrated Resource Plan proceeding asked for public comment on whether there were initial actions regulators should take this year, prior to completing the Aliso analysis, to address interactions between the electricity and natural gas systems in the Los Angeles Basin. 

The CPUC also has proceedings underway to plan for statewide decarbonization and decreased fossil gas use.

In an upcoming study of how the California electric transmission system would need to change to meet the state’s goal of serving 100% alternative energy by 2045, the CPUC, the California Energy Commission and the California Independent System Operator are studying scenarios that include the unavailability of the Aliso facility.