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Energy storage facility now operating in Goleta  

GridStor operates the battery storage facility in Goleta, CA.
Beth Thornton
GridStor operates the battery storage facility in Goleta, CA.

A new battery storage facility is operating in Goleta that can hold enough power for about 30,000 households during peak hours.

The facility has 44 containerized lithium-ion Tesla batteries that store energy primarily generated by wind and solar.

Peter Imhof, Director of Planning and Environmental Review for the City of Goleta, said the project helps to move the city away from fossil fuels and toward its goals for renewable energy.

“A battery storage plant like this one can store renewable energy that's generated during the day, especially from solar, also from wind, and then release that power when it’s needed most in the evening hours,” he said.

Imhof said storing energy also improves grid reliability for local residents.

“Here in Goleta, we’re at the end of the Southern California Edison load pocket. Our energy transmission comes up from Ventura and if there are outages then we are affected by that,” he explained.

The facility is on privately-owned property and operated by GridStor, a company out of Portland, Oregon, that develops and manages energy storage systems.

Imhof said the City of Goleta issued a permit for the GridStor facility following environmental and safety reviews.

“Looking at safety concerns including the potential for fire or other hazards associated with the battery storage, the environmental review concluded there was no significant impact as a result of the facility,” he said.

Energy storage is seen as one way to meet California’s decarbonization goals, however, it’s been reported that in some areas, like Morro Bay, people are conflicted about the safety of bringing a project like this to their area.

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, and has contributed to KQED's statewide radio show The California Report.