Winter is almost here, which means Los Angeles is finally starting to cool down and Angelenos are beginning to heat their homes. The dropping temperatures in Los Angeles have overwhelmed me with a gnawing sense of worry in regards to local energy reliability.
Since the Southern California Gas Company’s (SoCalGas) Aliso Canyon storage facility closed late last year, Los Angeles County has been without a critical facility that helps ensure energy reliability for residents. Recently, there have been calls from a small group to permanently close the facility, leaving the system that delivers the fuel to heat our homes and cook our food without its largest storage asset. This would only further our reliability issues, as demand for natural gas is highest in the winter, meaning a cold snap either here or on the east coast could result in gas shortages. This could result in blackouts, as over 60% of electricity in the region is generated by natural gas – not a fact that can be changed overnight.
As the Executive Director of the California Contract Cities Association, an organization that provides a platform for cities throughout Los Angeles County to voice their concerns, I speak on behalf of our member cities when I say this is a critical issue, as several of our member-city representatives provided input into Senate Bill 380, a bill that outlined protocols necessary for reopening the Aliso Canyon storage facility. The reopening will provide many of our member cities with reassurance that each day residents will be able to use appliances in their houses, and there will be heating in schools for their children.
Therefore, I believe it is in the county’s best interest to allow SoCalGas to adhere to the protocols of SB 380 and expedite the reopening the Aliso Canyon storage facility, which will alleviate pressure on our electric grids and allow everyone in the region to know they will have the energy they need for their daily lives. By reopening the facility, our houses, schools, manufacturers, transit agencies, and hospitals will be well-prepared for the cold weather headed our way. It is the responsible choice, and in my opinion, the only choice that allows us to ensure residents’ comfort and safety.
With this in mind, it is clear that the recent Los Angeles Unified School District Board’s resolution calling for the permanent closure of the storage facility is small in focus and could have devastating effects on the local community. Let’s not let a potential cold front rock us to our core, it is time to reopen the facility in compliance with the new laws and regulations to ensure we have the energy we need to power all of Los Angeles County.
Marcel Rodarte is executive director of California Contract Cities Association (CCCA), a collection of 70 member cities with more than 7 million residents united for a common cause. CCCA serves as a rallying point for cities contracting for municipal services so that we ensure our constituents the best service at the minimum cost.
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