SoCalGas on Thursday, Feb. 17, released details of its proposed “Angeles Link” project to create what the utility says is the largest hydrogen energy infrastructure system in the United States.
The utility, which supplies gas to about 22 million customers in central and southern California, said the project – which was submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday – could displace up to 3 million gallons of diesel fuel per day, remove up to 25,000 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide per year, and provide the clean fuel to convert up to four natural gas power plants to green hydrogen.
“The climate challenges we face require scaled and urgent solutions. The Angeles Link is designed to meet these challenges head-on,” said Scott Drury, CEO of SoCalGas.
“Today in Southern California, we are announcing plans for one of the largest clean energy infrastructure systems in the world to help address emissions for which there is no no easy answers. These emissions — from power plants, industry, and heavy-duty vehicles — matter a lot and must be significantly reduced to meet our and the state’s climate goals,” Drury continued.
However, environmental activists from Food & Water Watch Los Angeles criticized SoCalGas for calling the project “green”, responding that hydrogen requires 9 kg of water for every 1 kg of hydrogen produced. , and that the region is in the midst of a mega-drought that a UCLA study on Tuesday found is the most extreme in at least 1,200 years. The group added that hydrogen development has the potential to perpetuate fossil fuel infrastructure.
“California people aren’t blind to SoCalGas profits,” said group director Alexandra Nagy. “Time and time again, SoCalGas has shown its willingness to destroy our climate and our health while raising rates to make a profit by any means necessary. We would be foolish to let SoCalGas sell us programs like green hydrogen that divert us from real energy solutions and divert our water resources.
Governor Gavin Newsom said he had just learned of the plan when he spoke at a media event in Fontana, but called it “a step in the right direction” and added “we need to see more”.
Newsom said the state will focus on green hydrogen in the coming months, particularly as it relates to heavy industry.
The governor said SoCalGas’ proposal wouldn’t change his mind about whether to shut down the Aliso Canyon natural gas facility in the San Fernando Valley, site of the nation’s largest-ever gas leak in 2015.
The storage facility near Porter Ranch released more than 100,000 tons of methane and other chemicals into the air, resulting in the largest natural gas blowout in the nation’s history. The gas leak, which was first detected in October 2015 and lasted around four months, exposed residents to a host of chemicals, including benzene, which can cause cancer and harm the reproductive system.
Since the explosion, neighbors, activists and elected officials have urged that the facility be closed. However, the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, voted unanimously last year to expand capacity at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility after SoCalGas said it needed the expansion to keep energy prices stable ahead of the winter months.
Newsom said the proposal will be before the CPUC on Tuesday and he intends to consider it in the meantime.
“We want to move forward with closing Aliso Canyon,” he said Thursday. “I actually expressed my frustration that it’s not happening fast enough. So hopefully that will move that effort forward.
As proposed, the SoCalGas hydrogen system would support the integration of solar and wind power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, industrial processes, heavy trucks and other hard-to-reach sectors. electrify the economy, according to SoCalGas.
The amount of green hydrogen delivered would equal about 25% of the natural gas SoCalGas currently supplies, the utility said.
Chief engineer and general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Marty Adams, welcomed the idea of a hydrogen energy system of this scale in Los Angeles, saying “the ‘Affordable green hydrogen is key to realizing our clean energy future by 2035’.
The City of Los Angeles officially set a goal last year to power the city entirely with renewable energy by 2035. Details on how to bring the city to 100% renewable energy are yet to come. in development.
Councilman John Lee said the Angeles Link proposal is the first he’s seen that will significantly reduce the city’s natural gas needs without risking system reliability.
“I support the goals of this proposal because it will help us get closer to the city’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2035 without compromising reliability and hurting jobs,” he said.
SCNG staff contributed to this report.