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The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved a $1 million research grant to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) to demonstrate a compressed air energy storage (CAES) plant.

"In order to meet California's renewable energy goals, it is critical that we invest in energy storage research," says Energy Commission Chair Dr. Robert B. Weisenmiller. "This project is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve grid reliability and lower electric power system costs."

According to the CEC, the San Francisco-based utility will verify the performance of advanced CAES technology to provide support to the state's electric grid. The project will use excess wind energy to compress air into depleted natural gas reservoirs within PG&E's territory. The stored compressed air will be used to generate electricity during high demand periods.

The first phase of the project aims to establish costs and benefits of the technology, as well as to validate system reliability and durability to select a suitable site for the plant in California. When completed, the facility will be the first CAES plant operating on the West Coast.

The CEC grant will provide a cost share for the first phase of the project costing $50 million. The remaining balance will be paid for by the U.S. Department of Energy and other funding sources.


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