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Is the AES/SDG&E battery storage facility safe for Fallbrook?


Last updated 5/25/2023 at 12:36pm

AES Fluence/SDG&E Fallbrook Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on East Mission Road. Village News/Shane Gibson photo

Julie Reeder


This is in response to concerns on social media Sunday morning, May 21, from Friends of Fallbrook community members addressing the 40-megawatt battery storage facility on a 4.22-acre site in the 1400 block of East Mission Road.

The controversy stems from the misunderstanding that the Fallbrook battery storage facility is designed the same as other larger battery storage facilities that have had accidents in the last few years. Such as the one in Surprise, Arizona, where eight firemen were injured.

The Village News has been writing about this facility for years. See the link below for more complete information. The Fallbrook facility is built differently. It's built with 8' by 8' cubes. They are isolated from each other. If they burn, they have deflagration panels on the roof that allow the pressure of the container to release through the roof. The Surprise, Arizona BESS facility did not have deflagration panels, according to North County Fire Protection District PIO Capt. John Choi.

"If they burn, they have deflagration panels on the roof which will open up and the pressure will be released," Choi said. "There's no explosion hazard because of the design of the cubes. The one in Surprise, Arizona was a bigger container without deflagration panels. Fallbrook has a smaller design concept."

Choi believes there is no inherent hazard to our community. If there is an incident, the fire department is prepared to mitigate it.

"We would use HAZMAT and plume monitoring and evacuate if necessary," said Choi.

The 40-megawatt battery storage facility, built by AES Energy Storage and to be sold to SDG&E, is the largest battery storage facility in the San Diego region. The county's Planning Commission approved the project June 26, 2020, according to a Village News story in July 2020.

Under state law, an electricity company must deploy energy storage as part of its system. Battery-based energy storage provides flexibility to the electrical grid by storing energy produced during periods when supply would exceed capacity and discharging energy to the grid during periods of high demand.

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