Gridstor Goleta | Credit: Courtesy

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GridStor, a developer, owner, and operator of battery energy storage systems, is writing the next chapter of Santa Barbara’s clean energy transition with cranes installing 44 emission-free batteries at the company’s new 25,000-square foot facility on a 2.6-acre commercial/industrial lot on Cortona Drive in Goleta, California. Once online, the 60 MW / 160 MWh lithium-ion battery facility will be the biggest in Santa Barbara County, capable of powering over 30,000 households through the hours of the day when electric infrastructure is most stressed, in just the latest step towards realizing California’s goal to decarbonize its economy.

GridStor builds large-scale battery systems that connect directly into the power grid, providing critical infrastructure for reliable energy as the grid increasingly incorporates intermittent wind and solar power sources. The company strategically sites battery storage projects close to where demand is greatest to maximize delivery from renewable resources. This approach also helps build more resilient communities in the face of threats posed by climate change and severe weather.

“Climate change is the single greatest common challenge facing every one of us today, and with the opening of this facility we’re very excited to be meeting the moment for America’s demand for a clean and reliable electrical grid while also providing benefits to communities in Santa Barbara County,” said Chris Taylor, CEO of GridStor.

“All of us depend every day on a reliable electric system, and as we keep adding wind and solar energy to the grid, battery energy storage projects like our facility in Goleta will provide essential assistance to maintain that reliability at all hours of the day and in all conditions.”

As the second and largest battery in Santa Barbara County, GridStor’s Goleta facility will bring a range of environmental, financial, and security benefits to the region. Santa Barbara County generates very little of its own power and is served by only a few high-voltage lines that carry energy from far-flung sources. At the same time, the region is highly susceptible to natural disasters like wildfires, mudslides, and earthquakes, all of which can threaten power infrastructure and plunge communities into darkness. In addition to enabling more clean energy that reduces pollution from the region’s electricity grid, GridStor’s batteries will be capable of storing enough power to supply the equivalent of all of Goleta’s residential customers for up to four hours in the event of a blackout. This provides Santa Barbara County residents another option for local reliability and reduces dependence on the highly polluting Ellwood Generating Station, a gas-powered peaker plant, and other fossil power sources.

“Clean energy storage projects like this one help move the City of Goleta toward its renewable energy goals and enhance our energy resilience,” said Paula Perotte, Mayor of Goleta. “The addition of GridStor’s storage batteries to our grid brings closer the day that we will no longer need to rely locally on a gas-powered peaker plant.”

California currently generates abundant clean power from solar and wind, but still relies on polluting natural gas-fired power plants when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine or when transmission infrastructure becomes overtaxed. Batteries such as GridStor’s, which provide system reliability under a contract with the public utility Southern California Edison, ensure sustained operations and maximum utilization of clean energy while simultaneously reducing reliance upon natural gas power plants.

The Goleta batteries come at a critical time for California’s transition to clean energy, as the State of California works toward a carbon-free electricity system by 2045. The California Energy Commission projects that 49,000 MW of battery storage will be needed to meet the State’s decarbonization goals. GridStor’s project is a direct contribution to the State’s resource goals of 11,000 MW of new battery storage by 2026. The Goleta facility is expected to come online in the fall of 2023, at a time when resources to provide electric reliability are much needed across California; in a decision just three months ago, the California Public Utilities Commission determined an additional 4,000 MW of capacity is needed by 2027 to support the power system’s mid-term reliability.

In this case, the Goleta location will support the 900 MW of wind and solar power operating in the region and support the further build out of the planned 7,500 MW of additional renewables there over the next decade – expanding the company’s ability to deliver energy to the Greater Los Angeles area. The large size and strategic location of the facility will contribute to meeting these system reliability needs, and initiates GridStor as a major player in the California energy storage market as the state’s transition to clean energy continues.

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