Big Battery Storage in Goleta Proposed

A 500-kilowatt electricity storage facility — i.e., a big bunch of hi-tech batteries — is proposed for a corner of the Ellwood Generating Station roughly across Hollister Avenue from Sandpiper Golf Club. The Ellwood station generates electricity when demand exceeds supply, and the battery storage proposed by NRG Energy of Carlsbad would create the ability to hold power produced during times of low demand or from solar or wind sources. The City of Goleta’s initial review has resulted in a mitigated negative declaration, with mitigations generally addressing the chemicals on-site and fire or emergency response; birds, trees, and nests; and cultural or tribal resources that might be uncovered.

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Located at 30 Las Armas Road, the property was a Southern California Edison switchyard in 1929, and the Ellwood Generating Station fired up its turbines in 1973. The project’s battery could light up 400 homes for four hours, said David Knox, NRG’s spokesperson. LG Chem batteries will be used, which the initial review states have withstood tests for fire and explosion. The 60’x100’ battery enclosure would contain fire suppression equipment specifically for the chemical makeup of the lithium-ion batteries proposed, as well as temperature control units, and power conversion equipment. The battery modules use 40-60 volts of direct current and would be installed on racks totaling 700-1,000 volts. Construction of the unit — screened by surrounding walls and vegetation — is estimated to take 125 days. No new above-ground wiring is proposed.

The contract to provide Ellwood’s battery power to SoCal Edison transmission lines is before the state Public Utilities Commission, with a decision expected later this year, Knox said.

Comments on the draft study and declaration can be made to Sara Tistaert with Rincon Consultants ( or Anne Wells w/ Goleta’s planning department ( no later than April 27.

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