ZGlobal Presents: Solar Powered Battery Storage to the Santa Paula Community

 By Sheryl Hamlin

The community meeting on March 28, 2017 was noticed here and was reviewed for informational purposes only at a Santa Paula Planning Commission on October 25, 2016.

Battery Storage, Load Sharing and the Grid

It is fair to say that the Lithium and nickel metal hybrid battery enabled the portable electronic device market and designers have been pushing the envelope since its introduction decades ago. The theory of “load leveling”, the power grid using stored energy, has been a stated goal, according to this paper in the IEEE.

Fig. 1. A typical electrical power profile, showing the large variations during a 24-h period. In a load leveling scenario, an electrical energy storage device would be charged during low-power demand periods, and would discharge during high-power demand periods, thus filling in the valleys and lopping-off the peaks. A utility would need less overall power generation capability, and could delay the installation of extra generating capacity. Source: Whittingham: History, Evolution, and Future Status of Energy Storage

With the Aliso Canyon natural gas leak which compromised the grid’s ability to produce electricity from natural gas, the primary source for Southern California electricity, SCE started to push grid storage projects. And, in fact, Edison issued an emergency approval for this project in 2016 to Western Grid Development, LLC, which was documented here and here for a 9.99 MW project in Santa Paula by Western Grid Development, LLC.

Background: The Z-Global Connection

The Z in ZGlobal is Ziad Alaywan, owner of Z-Global. With deep, hands-on knowledge of energy and energy markets, Alaywan is somewhat legendary. In the book “Soul of the Grid: A Cultural Biography of the California Independent System Operator by Arthur O’Donnell, people mistook him for a machine:

Ziad Alawyan was an original member of the CA ISO startup

According to the Z-Global website, the company provides services in Power Engineering, Strategic Planning, Market Analytics, Distributed Generation and Electric Operations. The five offerings are summarized in this document.

It is under the category “Distributed Generation”, that Z-Global identifies the recently launched Battery Storage Project for the Imperial Irrigation District (IID) in the eastern part of the Coachella Valley. Here are details of the contract.

IID 30 MW Battery Storage

According to the IID website: “ZGlobal Inc. A local engineering firm with deep roots in California and vast knowledge of the Western electric system. CESP hired ZGlobal as the owner’s engineer and to project manage.” There are many different contractors in the IID project. The battery packs are built by GE for the IID project.

The IID battery storage project appears to be conceptually similar to a recently opened 80 MW plant built with Tesla battery packs Ontario and reported here.

Not discussed at the community meeting was the relationship between Western Grid Development LLC, whose name appeared on the masthead of the handout and where Ziad Alaywan was listed as “Member, Western Grid Development. However, at the October 25, 2016 Planning Commission meeting a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) was discussed between the plant owner, Western Grid, LLC and Edison. The following chart was given to the Planning Commission:

The Community Meeting in Santa Paula

About two dozen citizens attended the meeting where Pedro Nava, former state legislator and spokesperson for Z-Global, introduced Zaid Alaywan.

Zaid spoke about his history with PGE and CalISO, the independent grid operator. When he heard about the site on 12th Street, he saw its potential as being collocated with the Edison substation. He did not give details of the emergency authorization by Edison mentioned earlier in this article. Zaid said he paid $1.2 million for the property, the asking price. According the County Assessor’s office, the parcel 101-0-241-185 (132 N. 13th Street) changed hands last on 10/12/2016 with all taxes paid in full.

Nava made a point about the colocation of the battery storage, saying that the battery power goes right to the Wakefield substation and not to the grid, so it will be used first by Santa Paula. He also stated that the project will pass through all city zoning ordinances and approvals, not through the CEC and/or the CPUC, as in the case of the proposed Mission Rock peaker plant.

Audience Questions

The audience came prepared with questions and continued for over an hour with thoughtful questions about operation, esthetics, safety and financials.

Operational Questions

  • Q: How much heat per battery? A: minimal heat, but the air conditioning is always working to keep containers cool.
  • Q: What is the lifespan of a battery and what is its after-life? A: A battery has a 20 year life cycle, according to Director of Engineering for Samsung Energy Group, the battery partner. Samsung will process all recycling.
  • Q: How is the site secured? A: Via camera, 24 X 7 (no location given for the operators). Each battery weighs 116 pounds, so they do not expect theft, but there will be motion lights on the property.
  • Q: Laura Espinosa asked if there will be a dismantling clause in the contract so that Santa Paula is not left with a non-operational plant. A: Good idea, said Nava.
  • Q: Will there be school tours? A: Yes and maybe internships with the local schools.
  • Q: What is the battery discharge period? A: Four hours.
  • Q: How often does Santa Paula lose power? A: Per Edison, once a month at a minimum.
  • Q: How long does it take to charge a battery? A: From solar a couple of days, but from the grid much faster, but this is prohibited.
  • Q: How often to clean the solar panels? A: Every six months there will be a wipe down.
  • Q: What about excess power? A: They will discharge to grid once or twice a month to keep them to 95% full.



  • Q: Why ugly barbed wire? What about public art? No attack dogs in yard. A: All good points.
  • Q: Why the containers? The IID system was more attractive. A: Cost containment. IID wanted a showcase and a reception area for visitors.



  • Q: What about fire? Can typical fire department handle a fire here? A: A phone uses lithium hollow batteries in an aluminum pouch. These are fragile. BESS (Battery Energy Storage System) batteries are much larger, laser sealed stainless steel can. They have special features, such as a fuse in each cell to protect against large current surge, essentially a surge protector. In fast current, the battery becomes a “brick”. These are the same features used in the BMW car. The chemistry is different between phone and commercial batteries. The former is volatile, while the latter is not volatile chemistry (stable molecules). There is anti-propagation software (switching) to protect the next cell from contamination. Samsung has an excellent safety record.
  • Q: What chemicals are in the Novec fire retardant? A: A single molecule similar to halon gas, which is not under pressure from environmental groups.
  • Q: What are the risks? A: If the Novec fails and/or the safe guards fail mentioned earlier, all of which is highly unlikely.
  • Q: Can one failure bring down the system? A: No single failure can bring down the system due to the sophisticated “networked” monitors and controls of current in the Battery Management System (BMS).


  • Q: How is the project funded? Are there subsidies? A: No subsidies from State of California. (note: no details on overall funding or federal subsidies)
  • Q: What is the transaction flow? A: The business sells the power to SCE via a “ 20 year stand by power contract”. They get paid to have the power ready at all times and must perform. The power goes into the distributions system in California.
  • Q: Will there be sales tax? A: The project address is in Santa Paula, so all taxable materials delivered to the address will be credited to Santa Paula. There is no tax on the energy, but there will be a property tax improvement.
  • Q: Can it be written in to the agreement to give Santa Paula the first use of the power? A: Good point.
  • Q: Will Edison come to meeting? A: no answer given
  • Q: What is the household cost of this energy? A: The CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) mandated the use of battery storage as alternative stand-by power to gas fire peaker plants, so without variable costs, the cost model can be calculated out 20 years. The CPUC has said that this is the most cost effective solution for rate payers. It was noted that IID has reporting monthly savings of $1 million and has asked to extend to another 5 MW of capacity.

Next Steps – from handout

  1. Application for CUP (Conditional Use Permit) has been filed with the City of Santa Paula
  2. City staff preparing CEQA documentation
  3. 30 day public review period anticipated to commence May 2017
  4. A second public outreach meeting is scheduled for May 2017
  5. Santa Paula Planning Commission hearing tentatively scheduled for June 2017 6:00 pm


After the meeting Zaid answered questions about the technology and about the industry. I asked him about the future of CalIso’s plans for a Regional Power Grid. He looked at me and said simply: after the election, no, look at the coal states now. This is one to monitor.

For more information about author, click sherylhamlin dot com

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