PG&E says Tesla battery was source of power storage site fire

In the early hours on Monday, a Tesla Megapack battery caught fire at a key California power storage facility, the state’s largest utility said in a statement to TechCrunch.

According to PG&E, the utility “became aware of a fire in one Tesla Megapack at its Elkhorn Battery Storage facility” at around 1:30 AM in Moss Landing, which is located about 25 miles south of Santa Cruz, in Monterey County. The site is home to a facility that houses 256 Megapacks and is capable of storing up to 730 megawatt-hours of energy… when not aflame. Such facilities underpin the crucial transition to renewables by storing clean energy for use when the sun isn’t shining.

At the time this story was published, the facility was disconnected from the grid as firefighters worked to “stop the spread of the fire and provide a safe area for emergency response personnel.” The fire shut down a section of Highway 1 and sparked a shelter-in-place advisory from the county’s sheriff’s office. The office warned nearby residents of an “ongoing hazardous materials incident” at around 9:00 AM, stating: “Please shut your windows and turn off your ventilation systems.”

PG&E said in the statement that its safety systems “worked as designed when the issue was detected” and there were no onside injuries. The utility added that the incident did not lead to “electrical outages for customers at this time.”

When asked about the scale of the fire, a spokesperson for the utility declined to share additional information.

Though not pinned on Tesla, lithium batteries at storage sites in Moss Landing have repeatedly caught fire in recent years. And last year, a Tesla Megapack caught fire in Geelong, Australia during initial tests at the Victorian Big Battery storage site.

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