ORIGINAL REPORTING: In The Wake Of The Massive Aliso Canyon Leak
Historic Los Angeles methane leak puts natural gas emissions under scrutiny; As SoCalGas works to plug a monster methane leak, warnings abound for the electricity sector
Herman K. Trabish, December 21, 2015 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: This leak has now been plugged but the controversy it sparked about locating an antiquated natural gas storage facility adjacent to a city suburb continues to rage.
Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) has sealed the biggest known gas leak in U.S. history at one of its natural gas storage facilities in the Los Angeles region. The leaking methane — a greenhouse gas over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide — threatened the state's progress in its fight against climate change and continues to compromise the supply of natural gas, which is predominantly methane, to electricity generating plants and gas heating customers in the Southern California region. A fine has been levied against SoCalGas but the massive leak raised larger questions about the electricity sector's move to natural gas as a more environmentally-friendly resource than coal.
The Aliso Canyon facility is one of the four SoCalGas operates to supply a service territory that extends from Central California to the Mexican border. It supplies natural gas power plants that generate electricity for Southern California’s investor-owned and publicly-owned electric utilities and for millions of heating customers. Its storage is an important cog in the way the gas company handles swings in natural gas demand throughout the day in a state getting nearly a third of its electricity from renewables, according to Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies Executive Director V. John White.
Studies suggest that methane leakage can negate any climate benefits over burning coal so the electricity and gas sectors must find ways to limit or eliminate leaks if natural gas is to remain a viable alternative. The Aliso Canyon leak is exemplary of the dangers associate with a natural gas industry that relies on antiquated, inadequate infrastructure until it fails, experts say… click here for more