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Battery modules “overheat” at Vistra’s Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility

MOSS LANDING, Calif. (KION-TV) -- North Monterey County Fire crews continue to monitor an energy storage facility in Moss Landing after an overheating issue caused batteries to be damaged.

The incident happened Saturday, September 4 around 8 p.m. with crews initially responding to a structure fire.

When they arrived, there wasn't a fire at the facility, but batteries in Phase 1 of Vistra's Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility had overheated.

"We didn’t see any fire when we came in. What we saw was a lot of smoke," said Fire Chief Joel Mendoza. "The battery modules are actually encased in plastic. So in the event of overheating, you’re gonna see a lot of smoke."

Mendoza says the battery racks had been "scorched" and wires "melted."

A hazmat team and crews from Monterey County Environmental Health surveyed the building to make sure it was safe for fire crews to enter.

"They did their evaluations and took samples of fluids that were on the ground and air samples. Their report to us was that there isn’t anything of any consequence or anything that we should be concerned with," said Mendoza.

The batteries are stored in a 300-foot long building. Vistra Energy says that the facility is currently offline while they investigate what caused the problem. The smaller Phase 2 area of the facility is still online.

"The fortunate news is that our detection and response system worked as designed. It sensed that something was not right in the operation, that there was some overheating for some reason that we still don’t know, and then it activated isolated sprinklers," said Brad Watson, Vistra Energy's Director of Community Affairs.

Vistra says the plant is the largest energy storage system in the world. It stores excess energy during the day and releases it at night when it is more in demand. The facility can power 225,000 homes for four hours when at full capacity.

"There are going to be some problems that we don’t anticipate, but it’s on us now to get to the facts, find out what caused it, come up with a plan to fix it, and make it right because this is something that’s the future. This is something that California needs. This is something that the nation and the planet needs," said Watson.

Teams from Vistra, the battery manufacturer LG Energy Solution, and the builders of the facility are on the scene investigating. North Monterey County fire will assess the information from those experts to see how much longer they will be needed.

No injuries have been reported.

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Lisa Principi

Lisa Principi is a reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.


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