Los Angeles Utility Says Gas Plant Leaks Methane

(AP) — The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has reported that one of its natural gas plants is leaking methane. 

Earlier this year, the utility company participated in a statewide study to better inform California policymakers of the estimated leakage emissions rates from large end users of natural gas, including power plants, according to the LADWP statement. 

The study is still in progress but has determined that the compressors were leaking more than 100 kilograms of methane gas per hour at the company’s Valley Generating Station. 

“The emissions at Valley are considered incidental emissions that are not generally subject to regulation or permitting,” the statement said.  

In comparison, the LADWP said, the record-setting 2015 leak at the nearby Aliso Canyon storage field was 50,000 kilograms per hour. A blowout of a natural gas well at Aliso Canyon, operated by the Southern California Gas Company, led to the largest-known release of methane in U.S. history. 

The leak at the Valley Generating Station was reported to the utility last week by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which uses airborne sensors to detect and observe methane sources, the LADWP said.  

Major repairs at the plant are scheduled for November, “when a shutdown of Valley could be done without jeopardizing the electrical grid and potentially causing widespread power outages,” the LADWP said.  

Even small amounts of methane could damage the health of residents who live in neighborhoods near the Valley Generating Station, according to a statement from the Sierra Club.  

The LADWP says it is working as quickly as possible to repair the equipment. 

“Though the methane emissions are considered low, we are very sensitive to the concerns of local residents in the Northeast Valley and want to assure the community that LADWP is working on immediate interim steps to address the situation,” the LADWP said. 

–Gas Utility staff contributed to this report. 

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