An array of Tesla Powerpacks — the industrial-size batteries helping power a Hawaiian island and part of Australia — may soon plug in to a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. substation in Moss Landing (Monterey County).
PG&E asked state regulators Friday to approve four contracts for using big batteries to help support the electrical grid in several locations. The one in Moss Landing would be designed and built by Palo Alto’s Tesla, while PG&E would own and operate it. The other three projects would be owned and run by other companies.
PG&E asked the California Public Utilities Commission to vote on the contracts within 90 days.
PG&E, for example, plans to replace the output from such “peaker” plants in Oakland and San Jose with batteries and solar arrays. The commission ordered the state’s utilities in 2013 to procure 1.3 gigawatts of electricity storage capacity by 2020 — enough electricity to supply 993,750 typical homes at any given instant.
While best known for its luxury electric cars, Tesla offers batteries for both homes and businesses, and sees energy storage as a huge growth opportunity. One Tesla Powerpack system, paired with a 13-megawatt solar array, already supplies electricity after dark to the island of Kauai. The company installed another in 2017 in South Australia to help stabilize the grid after a string of blackouts.
Tesla and PG&E have already collaborated on a grid-tied battery project: a Powerpack installation with a capacity of 500 kilowatts that began operations last year at a PG&E substation in Yuba County, about 50 miles north of Sacramento.
The Moss Landing project would have a capacity of 182.5 megawatts, according to PG&E. The other battery contracts for which PG&E is now seeking approval include a 75-megawatt facility near Morgan Hill, a second Moss Landing facility with a capacity of 300 megawatts, and a collection of smaller, privately owned batteries in the South Bay that, together, have a capacity of 10 megawatts.