With upgrades that exceed rigorous state standards, the Playa del Rey Natural Gas Storage Facility remains a community asset

By Mike Harriel

Harriel is the SoCalGas regional public affairs manager for L.A.’s Westside. He’s responding to “SoCalGas, It’s Time to Go,” an April 12 opinion piece critical of the company’s gas storage facility in Playa del Rey.

At SoCalGas, we’re committed to delivering affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable energy to more than 21 million Californians.

Local natural gas storage fields, like SoCalGas’ Playa del Rey Natural Gas Storage Facility, play a critical role in maintaining the reliability of both our natural gas and electricity systems. Storing natural gas locally protects families and consumers from energy shortages and from seasonal and sudden spikes in the price of natural gas.

Some groups advocating to end the use of natural gas in California have recently made claims that our Playa del Rey storage facility is unsafe. That simply isn’t true.

The fact is, we have made significant upgrades to our natural gas storage operations in Playa del Rey. For more than two years we have worked with state agencies, assisted by leading experts, to introduce new safety enhancements, comprehensive inspections and advanced monitoring technologies at Playa del Rey and to improve communications with residents who live near the facility.

SoCalGas has taken proactive steps to ensure that all our storage facilities not only meet but exceed the rigorous standards set by state regulators. At Playa del Rey, all of the wells at the facility have been undergoing a battery of tests that state regulators and independent experts at the National Labs have called the most comprehensive in the country. These inspections are expected to be completed later this year.

The activists working to end the use of natural gas envision an all-electric future that would take away the rights of Californians to choose the energy they use in their homes and businesses. These policies would drive up energy bills, make housing more expensive and stall innovation.

Today, more than 90% of residents use clean natural gas to heat their homes and water, and people prefer natural gas for those uses because it is affordable and more reliable than electricity.

A recent poll conducted by the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) found that only 10% of voters in California would choose to buy an all-electric home, and 80% oppose making gas appliances illegal.

A separate analysis by CBIA found that if homeowners were forced to swap out their natural gas appliances for all electric alternatives, the average household in Southern California would see their energy costs go up by more than $875 each year. Most homes would also have to undergo retrofits and unnecessary construction, costing thousands of dollars.

While some groups are in the businesses of spreading fear and misinformation, we are focused on making enhancements that promote safety and on programs and policies that reduce emissions and keep costs low for hardworking families and businesses. We have been working hand-in-hand with our neighbors in Playa del Rey for years, and remain committed to open communication that supports our collaborative community partnership.