Pacific Gas and Electric touts battery energy storage, demand response programs to meet increased need

Published on July 25, 2023 by Chris Galford

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As summer heat’s grip on the country continues unabated, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) claimed it was ready to meet the increased electricity demand with new energy supply and battery storage, coupled with incentives to adjust individuals’ energy use.

“PG&E is working with the state’s energy agencies and doing our part to help ensure safe and reliable electric service this summer,” Gillian Clegg, PG&E vice president of energy, policy and procurement, said. “We’re continuing to bring online new resources like battery energy storage, including an additional 700 MW than we had available to serve customers last summer.”

For reference, in August 2020, PG&E had 6.5 MW of battery energy storage connected to the grid. By September this year, it anticipates 1,700 MW in-service and, when accounting for additional contracts spread across the next few years, it should have more than 3,000 MW deployed in the near term. Yet it’s not wholly reliant on battery systems to meet new demand.

PG&E is also modifying and expanding demand response programs which offer financial incentives for residential and business customers who cut power usage during peak demand periods. Through load management programs and contracts alone, when participated in by large numbers of customers, the company stated it should be able to reduce energy demand on the grid by up to 900 MW.

Peak demand hours, as defined by the utility, run from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

To serve its more than 16 million customers, the gas and electric utility also benefited this year from greater access to hydroelectric power. This is because, in spite of the heat now, California also received 100-200 percent above average precipitation levels in some regions, and boasted its largest snowpack overall since 1983. That means more hydroelectric power available to offset needs for other, higher cost generation.