Senator Stern Rolls Out Roadmap to Close Aliso Canyon in 2023

December 10, 2021

PORTER RANCH, CA – Today Senator Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles) stood with community advocates to roll out a roadmap to close the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage facility. As the CPUC contemplates the “feasibility” of closing Aliso Canyon as late as 2035, pursuant to a law (SB 380) Stern helped write back in 2015, the two-term state Senator for the San Fernando Valley pledged to introduce new follow-on legislation to drive the process forward, and bring the necessary investment and alignment needed to expedite closure next year.  

“We cannot wait another decade or more to close Aliso.  This is our home. We can close Aliso and in the process reduce the impacts of burning gas for energy across LA.  This plan will actually create more union jobs locally than the status quo and make customers' bills more predictable and affordable,” said Senator Stern.  

Stern’s plan is still in development but covers four primary areas: 

  1. Ramping local clean energy generation & storage (in accordance with the PUC’s recent directive to procure 11.5 GW of renewable power statewide)
  2. Reduce demand for natural gas, including efficiency measures and replacement of leaky furnaces and water heaters with new heat pumps and tankless water heaters that can also serve a dual purpose of improving cooling during extreme heat events.  Stern’s bill SB 1477 from 2018 established two programs: the Technology and Equipment for Clean Heating (TECH) and the Building Initiative for Low-Emissions Development.  Both programs launched this year to provide incentives for low-emission space and water heating equipment for new and existing buildings.
  3. Establish a reliability plan for extreme weather events by targeting solutions that meet the reliability needs for just a few days of extreme weather through  smart planning and coordination between the California Independent Systems Operator, the Los Angeles Department of Water and power, Southern California Edison and other large local gas users.
  4. Uplift and expand union jobs through the deployment of additional gigawatts of clean energy generation, energy storage, transmission: installing new heaters in homes will create thousands of good union jobs. 

More details of the roadmap and the opportunity to help with Stern’s push are available at https://www.senatorhenrystern.org/ .

Stern continued, “even though I vehemently disagree with the recent decision to allow SoCalGas to pressurize the field with more gas before a proper seismic review has been completed, I believe the California Public Utilities Commission wants to do the right thing here and heed Governor Newsom’s promise.  But they need help assembling a plan that may exceed their scope of authority.  We’ll need the county, the city, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Southern California Edison, and other arms of state government like the California Energy Commission, the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, environmental justice and consumer groups and others on board to make this work.”

On October 23, 2015 a gas leak that started from well SS-25 at the SoCal Gas Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility became the largest known leak of methane in our country’s history.  In the final analysis, it released more than 100,000 metric tons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.  By the time the well was sealed in February 2016 accompanying toxic and noxious chemical species had spewed into the atmosphere.  The blow-out resulted in nearby public schools closing during the leak to protect the children and staff while literally thousands of people in the surrounding communities had to temporarily move during the leak to protect their health from this pollution.  Even worse, some people were forced ultimately to permanently relocate due to ongoing health issues caused by the incident.

“The California Public Utility Commission has ignored numerous directives to shut down the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility,” Food & Water Watch’s California Director Alexandra Nagy said in response to the announcement. “Community members still suffer daily from the health impacts of poisonous gases released into their neighborhoods then and now. Every day of inaction by the CPUC is a denial of justice and healing for these communities.  Nothing other than the immediate closure of Aliso Canyon will prove the Commission’s respect and commitment to the wellbeing and safety of their constituents.”

If necessary, legislation addressing the closure will be introduced when the Legislature returns in January.