Vistra’s Oakland Battery Will Have Two Customers, Suggesting New Path for Storage Market

Utility PG&E finalized its contract with a battery project slated to displace a jet-fuel-burning power plant in downtown Oakland, California.

The Oakland Clean Energy Initiative models a pathway for removing decades-old power plants in dense urban settings while keeping the lights on with new lithium-ion batteries. But the project’s collaborative business model also makes it potentially groundbreaking for energy storage development, by formalizing the use of the battery for discrete grid services on behalf of two different clients.

PG&E, which is working to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of June, has experience building batteries and contracting with third parties for the use of their batteries. Battery owners often contract services to an offtaker while playing in merchant markets themselves. But the Oakland project marks a new foray into an owner sharing a front-of-meter battery plant with multiple customers.

Independent power producer Vistra Energy, which owns the 165-megawatt jet-fueled plant in question, signed a deal with PG&E to build a 36.25-megawatt/145-megawatt-hour battery at the existing site in Jack London Square. The facility will provide “local area reliability service,” helping the utility with its job of transmitting power to residents in Oakland. Doing so avoids a far costlier investment, like running new wires over the hills from the Moraga substation.

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Vistra’s Oakland Battery Will Have Two Customers, Suggesting New Path for Storage Market, by Julian Spector, Greentech Media, April 17, 2020.

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