Santa Paula Planning Commission: Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) and Collector Car Vault

By Sheryl Hamlin

During the January 23, 2018 Santa Paula Planning Commission meeting, the commission heard and approved two innovative projects: a stored solar battery energy system (BESS) and the Collector Car Vault.

BESS … Battery Energy Storage System

Previous articles on the Z-Global BESS project and battery storage can be read here including a discussion of investors and the PPA (Purchase Power Agreement). The project is located at 132 N. 13th Street, adjacent to the Edison Wakefield Substation.

It is important to note that in 2015 Southern California Edison issued an RFP for an “off-the shelf” BESS project which a utility company could buy in quantities to plug into the grid for energy storage and grid backup. Such systems are still custom engineering integration projects, as evidenced by the proposed Santa Paula BESS project and the recently completed Imperial Irrigation District (IID) Bess. In the IID BESS, for example, the inverters are integrated on the AC side, while in the SP BESS, the inverters will be integrated on the DC side. Read IID Press Release here. The IID BESS is designed to re-energize the IID gas fired peaker plant, while the SP BESS will be designed to augment the local grid.

Staff Report Description

A request for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) facility with twenty (20) storage containers with modular lithium-ion battery racks that store up to 80 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity for dispatch into the Southern California Edison (SCE) grid; a solar panel array at 14 feet in height that charges the batteries; interconnecting equipment; an office; drive aisle and parking; fencing; lighting; and landscaping. In compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), an Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) was prepared and circulated for public review and found no significant impacts with implementation of mitigation measures.

Chris Williamson, contract planner, presented the staff report. With the availability of “utility scale” batteries, he said that electricity generation is transitioning from a centralized solution, such as the massive, gas fired peaker plants, to distributed power generation. To read the final Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND), click here.

Shipping Containers, Solar Panels and Public Benefit

The SP BESS will have up to 20 shipping containers (53’ long by 8’ high by 9’ wide) outfitted with Canadian solar panels in a fixed-tilt configuration extending 5 feet above the shipping containers. The first phase will include five shipping containers ( called ‘modules’) containing arrays of lithium ion batteries in a sealed, pressurized environment.

According to Planner Williamson, the tilt of the panels is designed not to interfere with airplane traffic. Former Mayor Krause, who spoke in Public Comments, indicated her concern for glare into the hilltop homes of Santa Paula.

Planner Williamson also described a Public Benefit plan which Z-Global will provide to the Santa Paula Community which consists of a “behind the meter” solar system to be constructed at some public facility chosen by the city and at no cost to the city. Such a system would offset what the city would purchase from Edison and would not put power onto the grid. Z-Global would own for seven years, then the city could own it.

Public Comments

Sheryl Hamlin suggested approving the project, but reconvening another session when the final schematic for the real-time SCADA system and all monitoring conditions was designed, so that the public could understand the operating environment and failure conditions.

Mary Anne Krause, former Mayor, said that the SP BESS is an alternative to the Mission Rock peaker plant. Obviously, she said, the size of the Santa Paula BESS would not equal Mission Rock, but several projects throughout the county might suffice. She indicated that Santa Paula is the first community in Ventura County considering a BESS.

Karl Krause spoke saying this is the kind of project needed all over Southern California.

There were no questions and the project was approved missing Commissioners Robinson and McPhail.

Collector Car Vault

Presented by Planner Dante Doberneck, the description in the staff report is as follows:

The applicants, dba Collector Car Vault, are requesting approval of a Conditional Use Permit to allow multiple business operations at the former Packing House at 18201 E. Telegraph Road. The primary business would be the storage of vehicles and dry storage for commercial and personal items. Other businesses would include a variety of vehicle services and operations related to receiving and preparing vehicles for storage, vintage auto parts brokering and sales, and office uses.

Planner Doberneck indicated that the 3 acre parcel is the only privately owned parcel within the 501 acre East Area Specific Plan. The project is located within the historic Packing House at 18201 E. Telegraph Road. For previous articles or mentions of the historic Packing House, click here.

Mr. Doberneck indicated the meticulous landscaping and restoration of the building, which will undergo a thorough plan-check for any building code changes or violation. The building was built in 1912, so is over 100 years old. It is fronted by a row of century old Canariensis Palm trees on Padre Lane. Both the building and trees are eligible for historic designation, according to the local historians Triem and Stone.

The following picture taken from the Collector Car Vault Facebook page, shows highly secured, private storage of vehicles in the naturally cool subterranean storage areas of the former packing house.

Source: Collector Car Vault Facebook Page

There were no questions and the item was approved missing Commissioner Robinson.

To listen to the audio of the meeting, click here.

For more information on author click sherylhamlin dot com

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