PG&E ushers in landmark Tesla battery energy storage system at Moss Landing
MOSS LANDING — Monterey County is, once again, leading by example in the future of clean energy storage as industry leaders this week ushered in the use of Pacific Gas and Electric’s newest addition to its Moss Landing electric substation — a 182.5-megawatt Tesla Megapack battery energy storage system.
The system dubbed Elkhorn Battery, which became fully operational in April, was designed and is maintained by both PG&E and Tesla, and is owned and operated by PG&E. It has the capacity to store and dispatch as much as 730 megawatt-hours of energy to the California power grid at a maximum rate of 182.5 megawatts for up to four hours during periods of high demand. That’s enough to power 225,000 homes in Monterey County.
But to those behind the landmark expansion, the impact far outstretches the Central Coast.
“This is just the next step in bringing clean energy, and a bright and prosperous future for all Californians,” PG&E CEO Patti Poppe said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday.
Completion and now operation of PG&E’s Elkhorn Battery project is the culmination of nearly four years of planning, development and construction. First approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in November 2018 and the Monterey County Planning Commission in 2020, the project broke ground in July 2020, with heavy construction through 2021. Earlier this year, it was fully energized and certified for market participation by the California Independent System Operator, bringing the system officially online.
The Elkhorn Battery’s value lies in its ability to integrate affordable clean energy into California’s grid, which, in turn, enhances the reliability of statewide energy supply, PG&E spokesman Paul Doherty explained ahead of Monday’s ceremony. Batteries, he said, allow operators to store solar energy during the day when it’s abundant, as well as when demand is generally low, and then discharge reserved power to the grid when demand increases.
“It’s a win-win-win,” Doherty said. “It’s more affordable energy, it’s cleaner energy, and it helps the state in meeting the needs of the grid, you know, especially in periods like the summertime peak demand when there’s potential shortages of energy.”
The Elkhorn Battery system participates in the California Independent System Operator wholesale electric markets, which manages the flow of electricity for about 80% of California.
To illustrate what the facility means for customers and state energy storage in real-time, Poppe cited a system success story from its short stint actively operating. Just 10 days after connecting to the grid in April, Elkhorn saw a midday charging cost of about $10/megawatt-hour, when the system had “ample, abundant, renewable clean energy resources,” Poppe said. Meanwhile, at peak demand, power was selling at $100/megawatt-hour, but Elkhorn already had reserved power to dispatch.