The biggest energy storage project in the world is proposed to be built in Moss Landing, and if approved, could come online by December 2020. Tesla is proposing to build another project just a stone’s throw away, which may also come online by that time.

On June 29, Pacific Gas & Electric submitted plans for four energy storage projects for the Central California area, two in Moss Landing – one at the Dynegy power plant, the other at the adjacent PG&E substation.

This comes after the California Public Utilities Commission, on Jan. 12, ordered PG&E to solicit energy storage projects for the region to address energy capacity and voltage issues. They received 29 proposals, and chose four to pitch to the CPUC, including the two at Moss Landing.

If approved, the projects would help facilitate the effectiveness of renewable power as an energy source, as they could store solar and wind energy generated during the day and then deliver that energy back to the grid after the sun goes down, and when demand for power is higher.

In April, Dynegy Inc. merged with Vistra Energy Corp. – both companies are based in Texas – and the storage project at the power plant will be owned by Dynegy Marketing and Trade, LLC, a subsidiary of Vistra. Its proposed storage capacity, 300 megawatt-hours, would dwarf Tesla’s 100-megawatt-hours storage plant in South Australia, currently the world’s largest.

“This is an exciting opportunity to create value at our Moss Landing site and solve a meaningful power demand concern in California,” Vistra spokeswoman Meranda Cohn writes by email, adding that the company seeks to become an “expert” in energy storage. Cohn writes it has yet to be determined from which company Vistra will purchase the lithium-ion batteries for the project.

Tesla, on the other hand, would use its own batteries for its proposed project, which would have a capacity of 182.5 megawatt-hours. Tesla wouldn’t own the project, but would build and maintain it for PG&E, which will own it.

Tom Habashi is CEO of Monterey Bay Community Power, a new government entity that purchases renewable energy to deliver to customers in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties (in lieu of PG&E, which still delivers MBCP’s power). He says the proposed projects would be a good thing to increase reliability of the local grid and to facilitate renewables, but that it remains unclear what impact the projects will have on the cost of energy in the years after coming online – it could be slightly negative, or slightly positive.

The reason, he says, is because it’s unclear how much they will cost to build, and that the markets would respond better if they started at a trickle, not a flood. “To the extent we can do it gradually, that always helps,” Habashi says.

Long-term, he expects the storage projects to help drive down the cost of renewable energy, helping solar and wind to become “a resource of choice.”

PG&E, in the company’s submission to the CPUC, requests that the commission approve the four projects within 90 days of June 29, and is asking that, per CPUC regulations, they be exempted from local permitting and environmental review. That would mean if approved, the projects can proceed.


Clarification 7/14/18: The story has been clarified to change "megawatts" to "megawatt-hours."

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