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SoCalGas Achieves Important Milestone for Green Hydrogen Infrastructure System

December 18, 2022

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved Southern California Gas Co.’s (SoCalGas’) request to track costs for advancing the first phase of Angeles Link, a proposed green hydrogen pipeline system that could deliver clean, reliable, renewable energy to the Los Angeles region.

As envisioned, Angeles Link could be the nation’s largest green hydrogen pipeline system and support significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electric generation, industrial processes, heavy-duty trucks, and other hard-to-electrify sectors of the Southern California economy.

In a final decision, the CPUC declared, “the public interest is served if SoCalGas begins conducting a feasibility study of the Project immediately.” The agency also asked SoCalGas to join members of the Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES) in support of California’s application for a share of $8 billion in available federal funds to support regional hydrogen hubs.

State Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera) stated, “As the chair of the California Senate Select Committee on Hydrogen Energy, it is my goal to help California continue serving as a national and global leader in clean hydrogen development so we can reach our clean energy and zero-emission vehicle goals.

This decision on Angeles Link by the CPUC advances California’s leadership on hydrogen and better positions the state to secure billions in federal funding opportunities via ARCHES.” 

 Scott Drury, SoCalGas Chief Executive Officer said, “The proposed Angeles Link aligns SoCalGas’ scale, 150 years of expertise in service, and our highly skilled workforce with the clean energy and environmental policies that will shape this century.”

As the CPUC’s decision highlights, Angeles Link has the potential to support decarbonization for hard-to-electrify sectors of our economy, improve our air quality, bring new economic opportunities as well as sustain and grow skilled jobs to our region.” 

Proposed in February of this year, Angeles Link would serve hard-to-electrify industries like dispatchable electric generation, heavy duty trucking and industrial processes. As contemplated, Angeles Link would deliver green hydrogen in an amount equivalent to almost 25% of the natural gas SoCalGas delivers today. 

In serving those industries, Angeles Link’s green hydrogen would displace up to 3 million gallons of diesel fuel per day, or 1 billion gallons annually, and enable conversion of up to four natural gas power plants to run on clean renewable hydrogen.

It would also eliminate nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon dioxide (CO2) equal to removing 3.1 million cars off the road annually.

In addition, it would generate billions of dollars in new clean energy investments in the LA Basin and create thousands of new union jobs.

Over time and combined with other future clean energy projects, Angeles Link could also help reduce natural gas demand served by the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, facilitating its ultimate retirement, while continuing reliable and affordable energy service to the region.

There is growing recognition among experts and policymakers that a broad set of tools will be needed to achieve California’s climate and clean air goals by mid-century, including electrification, clean fuels like renewable natural gas and clean renewable hydrogen, and carbon management.

The California Air Resources Board’s (CARB’s) recent Scoping Plan calls for scaling up, “new options such as renewable hydrogen for hard-to-electrify end uses” in its roadmap to decarbonize California. The federal government has also signaled that clean renewable hydrogen will play a key role in a clean-energy future, with billions of dollars in funding becoming available to develop clean renewable hydrogen hubs.

The Angeles Link project could extend California’s position as a leader on clean energy well into the future, while potentially helping to attract billions of dollars in new investment and maintaining and creating thousands of skilled jobs.

Gene Seroka, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director said:

Green hydrogen is an important pathway to reach our goal of zero-emissions cargo operations at the Port.

“The Port and our terminal partners have five active hydrogen demonstration projects and, ultimately, Angeles Link can play a key role in providing green hydrogen at the scale needed to achieve our zero-emissions and decarbonization goals by 2030.”

Kathryn Barger, who represents Los Angeles County’s Fifth Supervisorial District stated, “Angeles Link is a robust project that will significantly reduce the need for fossil-based natural gas and Aliso Canyon in Los Angeles.

I support efforts to move feasible projects forward that reduce emissions and the need for Aliso Canyon without jeopardizing grid reliability – or the good jobs and important businesses – that depend on the natural gas system. Angeles Link is a win-win for Los Angeles businesses and residents.”

Tracy Hernandez, Founding CEO of the Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) stated, “Hydrogen is creating the next infrastructure boom in the U.S.

Estimates show green hydrogen alone could generate approximately $140 billion in revenue and support 700,000 jobs nationally by 2030. Angeles Link better positions Los Angeles to capture that revenue and benefit from those jobs.”

SoCalGas announced its aim to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. It is the first large natural gas utility in the United States to do so.

As part of SoCalGas’ net-zero strategy, the company is developing a portfolio of clean fuels demonstration projects with collaborators from private industry, the US Department of Energy and California Energy Commission, and leading research institutions such as the University of California, Irvine, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. More than a dozen hydrogen pilot projects are already underway across the company.

In September, SoCalGas announced a proposed collaboration with the University of California, Irvine, to demonstrate how electrolytic hydrogen can be safely blended into existing natural gas infrastructure on the university’s campus – an important next step in establishing a statewide injection standard for renewable hydrogen.

SoCalGas is also constructing a clean renewable hydrogen microgrid as part of its [H2] Innovation Experience. The [H2] Innovation Experience is a proof-of-concept project for resilient, clean energy using an electrolyzer to convert solar energy to clean renewable hydrogen and a fuel cell to supply electricity to a home, neighborhood, or campus community – independent of the electric grid.

Earlier this month, the project was awarded the U.S. Green Building Council – Los Angeles’ (USGBC-LA) Sustainable Innovation Award which recognized SoCalGas’ commitments to sustainability through projects that demonstrate exemplary performance. The project was also named a World-Changing Idea in North America by Fast Company in 2021. 

The CPUC’s approval of SoCalGas’ Angeles Link memorandum account application allows the company to track costs of performing Phase One feasibility studies for the project.

Phase One activities include preliminary engineering, design, along with studies of supply, demand, possible end users, pipeline configuration and storage solutions, environmental considerations, workforce planning and training, robust stakeholder outreach, and an analysis of project alternatives.

“We’re excited to have reached this important milestone and are grateful to the Commission and to leaders from labor, environmental organizations, government, and the private sector who are working together on the critical building blocks of California’s clean renewable hydrogen economy,” Drury said. 

“We look forward to supporting California in its application for federal hydrogen hub funding and continuing the robust, transparent and collaborative engagement process that has been a hallmark of the Angeles Link proposal from the start.”

For the latest information about Angeles Link, visit https://www.socalgas.com/angeleslink.