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Home: Friends of the Family Farm: Spotlight: Gill Ranch Storage

Gill Ranch Storage provides regional natural gas storage services

Based in the outskirts of Madera, Gill Ranch Storage is the only natural gas storage site in Central California. The facility opened in 2010 and serves customers statewide. Due to its location in the Valley, Gill Ranch supports the agriculture industry and became a Friends of the Family Farm sponsor in 2011.

Gill Ranch allows buyers to park natural gas for a period of time and then retrieve it when needed. Summer is the usual injection time to store for the peak winter season, said Arlon Eklund, the plant supervisor.

“We’re an essential regional asset as California relies more on natural gas for base load power generation and back up of renewable energy,” said Eklund, who has more than 20 years of experience in natural gas storage operations and previously ran a plant in Texas.

Gill Ranch Storage LLC owns 75 percent of the facility and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) owns 25 percent. Customers schedule storage injections and withdrawals through Northwest Natural Gas Storage. Gill Ranch Storage LLC and Northwest Natural Gas Storage are wholly owned subsidiaries of Northwest Natural, which is based in Portland, Ore.

Natural gas reaches the Gill Ranch facility through 28 miles of 30-inch pipe that connects to the PG&E 401 line located near Interstate 5 and Panoche Road. The gas is stored in a porous and permeable sandstone rock formation located 6,000 feet underground.

The facility sits on 10 acres and includes a variety of equipment including five 9,000-horsepower electric motors, two dehydration systems, four line heaters, 12 injection-withdrawal wells, seven monitoring wells and an array of auxiliary equipment. The company employs 10 full-time employees from Fresno and Madera counties.

Each day, Gill Ranch employees move gas in and out of storage, maintain equipment and the site and inspect the pipelines in the area. In addition, a recent contract with PG&E allowed Gill Ranch to supply fuel for Paramount Farms’ new pistachio dryer in Madera.

Natural gas storage is not common in California, Eklund said. As the southern-most natural gas storage facility in the northern zone, Gill Ranch provides quality natural gas storage services and public awareness outreach to its customers and neighbors.

As a safety precaution, Gill Ranch urges property owners, farmers and contractors to call 8-1-1 to identify pipe location prior to digging near its line. The company will send representatives to the job site and mark the pipeline to prevent injury or property damage. The service is free and required by law before any excavation is performed.

 

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