A Tesla Megapack battery caught fire this morning at the local utility company PG&E’s Elkhorn Battery Storage facility in Monterey County, California, as reported by local news stations KSBW Action News 8 and KRON4.
Now there’s an alert from Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, North County Fire Protection District, and Pacific Gas & Electric issuing a shelter-in-place advisory for nearby areas, complete with an interactive map showing which areas are affected and road closures. Residents are asked to shut all windows and turn off ventilation systems due to the ongoing hazardous waste material incident caused by the Tesla Megapack fire.
The fire started at around 1:30AM this morning, according to PG&E’s operations comm manager, Jeff Smith. Smith tells The Verge that PG&E is working with fire and emergency services to provide enough space to safely stop the spread of the fire. As of 1:55PM ET, it appears that the fire is still burning. No injuries were reported at the scene.
Caltrans confirmed the fire closed a section of Highway 1 as fire crews deployed units to handle the blaze. The California Highway Patrol tweeted at 4:29PM that the closure has been extended due to air quality concerns, and there is no ETA for when it will be reopened.
According to Smith, built-in safety systems worked as designed, automatically disconnecting the Tesla batteries from the grid when the fire was detected.
The Elkhorn battery facility, located at Moss Landing, houses a 182.5-megawatt Tesla Megapack system originally announced in 2019. The facility is owned and operated by PG&E, but it was designed, built, and is also maintained by both Tesla and the utility company. Smith said PG&E does not expect the fires to cause customers any outages.
California’s electric grid is connected to multiple battery storage facilities, including Vistra Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility, a 400-megawatt setup across two buildings adjacent to Elkhorn. The higher power operation houses batteries built by LG Energy Solutions, and according to Mercury News, it was shut down earlier this year due to at least two separate issues with overheating batteries.
In July, Vistra restarted the facilities while operating at 98 percent of max capacity “after implementing identified corrective actions, including related to connectors in the water-based heat suppression system.” It’s currently building a 350-MW Phase III expansion and mentioned plans for a phase four setup that would raise the site’s capacity to 1,500 MW.
Update 4:55PM ET: Added shelter-in-place advisory notice from Monterey County officials, and additional local coverage from KSBW Action News 8.
Source: The Verge