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Gas-battery hybrid peaker proposal advances in California

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Gas-battery hybrid peaker proposal advances in California

A California Energy Commission panel reviewing the Stanton Energy Reliability Center, a proposed 98-MW natural gas-fired power plant with 20 MW of battery storage, has recommended approval of a license required to build and operate the $150 million facility.

Underpinned by a 20-year contract with Edison International utility Southern California Edison Co., developer W Power LLC in October 2016 applied for a license to build the facility in Orange County, Calif., as one of the world's first fully integrated gas-battery hybrid peaker plants built from scratch. The proposed project relies on technology co-developed by General Electric Co. and Wellhead Electric Co. Inc.

GE has demonstrated the technology by retrofitting existing SoCalEd gas peaker plants with lithium-ion batteries, but the Stanton Energy Reliability Center would be the first greenfield project.

If approved, construction of the hybrid facility could start as soon as November, and it could begin commercial operations by the end of 2019, according to the energy commission's Oct. 5 proposed decision.

The project has received broad support from local and state lawmakers. The Clean Coalition initially petitioned the commission to broaden its analysis of alternatives to Stanton, including solar-plus storage facilities. Regulators rebuffed its request.

Stanton is part of a growing trend of proposed hybrid power plants in California and across the U.S. in which developers are combining batteries with renewables and conventional generation.