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Press Release

SoCalGas and the University of California, Irvine Announce Hydrogen Blending Project to Promote Clean Energy and Resiliency Goals

Published by Todd Bush on September 9, 2022

Project would build upon prior research to blend electrolytic hydrogen into existing pipelines

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and the University of California, Irvine (UCI) today announced a proposed collaboration to demonstrate how electrolytic hydrogen can be safely blended into existing natural gas infrastructure on the university's campus. The project aims to help better understand how clean fuels like renewable hydrogen could be delivered at scale through California's existing natural gas system, either to existing customers connected to the gas grid, or to generate clean electricity in zero-emissions fuel cells. The demonstration is an important next step in establishing a statewide injection standard for renewable hydrogen that would promote California's clean energy and resiliency goals. If approved, SoCalGas could begin testing hydrogen blending at UCI as soon as 2024.

"The use of existing natural gas networks to transport renewable hydrogen is actively being pursued around the world because clean fuels like hydrogen can do many of the critical jobs that natural gas does today," said Neil Navin, vice president for clean energy innovations at SoCalGas. "This demonstration project offers a real-world environment to better understand how clean fuel blends can be delivered to customers connected to the gas grid today. It can also help us assess how to more quickly deploy advanced technologies key to the state's climate and clean air goals such as neighborhood micro-grids that promote reliability and resiliency."

"Research at UCI has shown that we cannot achieve high renewable power use without the features of hydrogen," said Jack Brouwer, UCI professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and director of the UCI-based National Fuel Cell Research Center. "The massive storage and resilient underground transmission and distribution of renewable energy that will be enabled by transformation of the gas system to renewable and clean hydrogen use will be investigated and advanced in this important effort."

"The current heat wave we are experiencing makes clear the urgency of decarbonizing our economy as quickly as possible," said Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine). "I'm proud to represent UC Irvine, which has been a leading research hub for new green technologies, including in the important area of hydrogen fuel. UCI is an ideal location for this demonstration project, which should help us make significant progress in fighting climate change and restoring a bright future for our children and grandchildren."

SoCalGas' collaboration with UCI is part of a hydrogen blending demonstration application jointly filed with San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) and Southwest Gas yesterday with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

The demonstration project builds upon the California Public Utilities Commission "Hydrogen Blending Impacts Study," performed by University of California, Riverside (UCR). The study recommended testing hydrogen blending in a real-world environment as an important step toward establishing a California hydrogen blending standard, which could accelerate the state's clean energy and resiliency goals.

As proposed, UCI would use an electrolyzer to convert water into hydrogen for blending into the existing gas grid on sections of the UCI campus. The demonstration would power existing residential and light commercial equipment, including water heaters, boilers, furnaces, and ovens in academic buildings, student amenities, and housing. The project would initially blend 5 percent hydrogen, with a goal of gradually increasing the hydrogen blend up to 20 percent, resulting in potentially significant CO2 emissions reductions.

"Hydrogen will play an important role in reducing CO2 emissions while also enabling access to clean energy in various sectors of our economy," said Kristine Wiley, vice president of the Hydrogen Technology Center at GTI Energy. "Advancing how we integrate hydrogen into our energy system is critical to the scale up and implementation of this technology. This project will be a proving ground for how we leverage our existing infrastructure to transport and supply clean hydrogen."

"The establishment of a statewide renewable hydrogen blending standard could help scale green hydrogen production, which in turn can drive down costs for its widespread adoption across the state," said Navin. "A 20% clean hydrogen blend in a system as large as Southern California's could reduce CO2 emissions in an amount equivalent to removing more than a million passenger vehicles from the road for a year."

"Hydrogen blending provides real and meaningful opportunities for participation in the clean energy economy for the tens of thousands of highly skilled southern California union members who build, operate, and maintain the natural gas utility infrastructure today," said Jon Preciado, business manager for the Southern California District Council of Laborers.

Growing Portfolio of Sustainability, Hydrogen Innovation

SoCalGas is at the forefront of sustainability having 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.

SoCalGas' net zero strategy demonstrates the potential of innovative clean fuels like renewable hydrogen. More than a dozen hydrogen pilot projects are currently in progress within SoCalGas. These projects include testing a technology designed to separate out hydrogen blended into natural gas pipelines. The technology could allow quick access to pure hydrogen which could be transported as a blend in existing natural gas pipelines.

SoCalGas is also constructing a renewable hydrogen microgrid and home as part of its [H2] Innovation Experience. The renewable hydrogen microgrid for the [H2] Innovation Experience is a proof-of-concept project for resilient, clean energy using an electrolyzer to convert solar energy to hydrogen and a fuel cell to supply electricity to a home, neighborhood, or small business. The project was named a World-Changing Idea in North America by Fast Company.

Additionally, earlier this year SoCalGas proposed developing the Angeles Link, a dedicated green hydrogen energy infrastructure system for delivering clean reliable energy to the Los Angeles Basin to serve hard to electrify sectors of the economy like electric generation, heavy-duty transportation, and heavy industry and manufacturing.

SoCalGas is a recognized industry leader in hydrogen innovation. The company first partnered with UCI's National Fuel Cell Research Center in 2016 for the first successful green hydrogen blending project in the United States.

More information about SoCalGas' hydrogen innovation can be found at socalgas.com/hydrogen.

About SoCalGas

Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, and increasingly renewable gas service to 21.8 million consumers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California. Gas delivered through the company's pipelines will continue to play a key role in California's clean energy transition—providing electric grid reliability and supporting wind and solar energy deployment.

SoCalGas' mission is to build the cleanest, safest and most innovative energy company in America. In support of that mission, SoCalGas aspires to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 and to replacing 20 percent of its traditional natural gas supply to core customers with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030. Renewable natural gas is made from waste created by landfills, and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is also committed to investing in its gas delivery infrastructure while keeping bills affordable for customers. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra ( NYSE: SRE), an energy infrastructure company based in San Diego.

For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.

This press release contains statements that constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are based on assumptions with respect to the future, involve risks and uncertainties, and are not guarantees. Future results may differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements represent our estimates and assumptions only as of the date of this press release. We assume no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or other factors.

In this press release, forward-looking statements can be identified by words such as "believes," "expects," "intends," "anticipates," "contemplates," "plans," "estimates," "projects," "forecasts," "should," "could," "would," "will," "confident," "may," "can," "potential," "possible," "proposed," "in process," " construct," "develop," "opportunity," "target," "outlook," "maintain," "continue," "progress," "advance," "goal," "aim," "commit," or similar expressions, or when we discuss our guidance, priorities, strategy, goals, vision, mission, opportunities, projections, intentions or expectations.

Factors, among others, that could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statement include risks and uncertainties relating to: decisions, investigations, regulations, issuances or revocations of permits and other authorizations, renewals of franchises, and other actions by (i) the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), U.S. Department of Energy, and other regulatory and governmental bodies and (ii) the U.S. and states, counties, cities and other jurisdictions therein in which we do business; the success of business development efforts and construction projects, including risks in (i) completing construction projects or other transactions on schedule and budget, (ii) realizing anticipated benefits from any of these efforts if completed, and (iii) obtaining the consent or approval of partners or other third parties, including governmental and regulatory bodies; civil and criminal litigation, regulatory inquiries, investigations, arbitrations and other proceedings, including those related to the natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility; changes to laws and regulations; cybersecurity threats, including by state and state-sponsored actors, to the energy grid, storage and pipeline infrastructure, information and systems used to operate our businesses, and confidentiality of our proprietary information and personal information of our customers and employees, including ransomware attacks on our systems and the systems of third-parties with which we conduct business, all of which have become more pronounced due to recent geopolitical events and other uncertainties, such as the war in Ukraine; failure of our counterparties to honor their contracts and commitments; actions by credit rating agencies to downgrade our credit ratings or to place those ratings on negative outlook and our ability to borrow on favorable terms and meet our debt service obligations; the impact of energy and climate policies, laws, rules and disclosures, as well as related goals and actions of companies in our industry, including actions to reduce or eliminate reliance on natural gas generally and any deterioration of or increased uncertainty in the political or regulatory environment for California natural gas distribution companies and the risk of nonrecovery for stranded assets; the pace of the development and adoption of new technologies in the energy sector, including those designed to support governmental and private party energy and climate goals, and our ability to timely and economically incorporate them into our business; weather, natural disasters, pandemics, accidents, equipment failures, explosions, acts of terrorism, information system outages or other events that disrupt our operations, damage our facilities and systems, cause the release of harmful materials, cause fires or subject us to liability for damages, fines and penalties, some of which may be disputed or not covered by insurers, may not be recoverable through regulatory mechanisms or may impact our ability to obtain satisfactory levels of affordable insurance; inflationary and interest rate pressures, volatility in commodity prices, our ability to effectively hedge these risks, and their impact, as applicable, on our cost of capital and the affordability of customer rates; the availability of natural gas and natural gas storage capacity, including disruptions caused by limitations on the withdrawal of natural gas from storage facilities; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on capital projects, regulatory approvals and the execution of our operations; changes in tax and trade policies, laws and regulations, including tariffs, revisions to international trade agreements and sanctions, such as those that have been imposed and that may be imposed in the future in connection with the war in Ukraine, which may increase our costs, reduce our competitiveness, impact our ability to do business with certain counterparties, or impair our ability to resolve trade disputes; and other uncertainties, some of which are difficult to predict and beyond our control.

These risks and uncertainties are further discussed in the reports that the company has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These reports are available through the EDGAR system free-of-charge on the SEC's website, www.sec.gov, and on Sempra's website, www.sempra.com. Investors should not rely unduly on any forward-looking statements.

Sempra Infrastructure, Sempra Texas, Sempra Mexico, Sempra Texas Utilities, Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC (Oncor) and Infraestructura Energética Nova, S.A.P.I. de C.V. (IEnova) are not the same companies as the California utilities, San Diego Gas & Electric Company or Southern California Gas Company, and Sempra Infrastructure, Sempra Texas, Sempra Mexico, Sempra Texas Utilities, Oncor and IEnova are not regulated by the CPUC.

SOURCE Southern California Gas Company

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