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Vistra Energy’s battery storage plant in California, once the world’s largest, is now completely dormant after second incident in 5 months.

image credit: Courtesy Dreamstime
Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 725 items added with 352,854 views
  • Feb 18, 2022
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It was not a thermal runaway as some news organizations have reported, but for the second time in five months, emergency responders were called to the Vistra Energy’s battery storage plant in Moss Landing, CA for reports of a structure fire. 

When crews arrived, they only smelt burnt plastic, saw smoke, and notices about 10 racks of lithium-ion batteries were drenched. A similar scene to when they were called to the same battery storage plant in September. The Vistra Energy battery storage plant is made of two facilities: an older 300MW facility and a newer, 6-month-old 100MW facility. 

When the incident occurred at the 300MW facility in September, it was only weeks after Vistra announced the completion of the new 100MW facility, making the Moss Landing battery plant the largest in the world. The 300MW facility has been out of operation since the September incident. Earlier in February, Vistra announced the cause was a malfunction that set off the fire suppression system—not an overheated battery.

Vistra was preparing to reopen the 300MW facility until Feb. 13, when the 100MW facility began to smoke, setting off the fire suppression system. Now, the entire plant is out of commission indefinitely with no timetable for return. The plant cannot go back into operation until improvements are made. To top this all off, Vistra also announced earlier in February that it was preparing to expand the Moss Landing facility by an additional 350MW, after an reaching agreement with PG&E. 

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Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Feb 18, 2022

Curious how this is going to impact things in the summer months when load demand peaks? 

Shelly Whitworth's picture
Shelly Whitworth on Feb 21, 2022

When the first incident happened, I hoped it was just a one-time occurrence - really, really wanting to see the project succeed. Large-scale storage is SO needed to meet load demand during heat storms, and to support the energy transformation. 

"Now, the entire plant is out of commission indefinitely with no timetable for return."
Instead, this sad news about a local, once-largest battery storage facility being offline leaves me concerned about reliability this summer and the success of other storage projects coming online soon...

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