LG batteries stolen from California BESS project were already decommissioned, developer says


Battery packs stolen from the Valley Center Energy Storage project in California were decommissioned and awaiting recycling, developer Terra-Gen has told Energy-Storage.news.

Some 100 LG lithium-ion battery packs were stolen from the battery storage project – pictured above – from late December through January 2023, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said on 16 February.

The project was energised in December 2021 and announced as online by developer Terra-Gen in March 2022.

In response to questions sent earlier this week, a representative for Terra-Gen gave more details on how the incident occurred to Energy-Storage.news:

“These were decommissioned batteries, palletised and ready for transport to a recycling centre.”

“The decommissioned batteries were packaged and staged in the Project lay-down area, outside the fence line, for transport to a recycling centre. Because of holiday scheduling, the pick-up was delayed. The theft occurred during a period between Christmas and New Years,” they said.

terra-gen valley center energy storage
An image of battery modules issued by the Valley Center Sheriff Department, which it said are similar to those which were taken: Image: Valley Center Sheriff’s Deptartment.

In its media release the Sheriff’s Department warned the public not to attempt to use or connect the batteries because of the risk of a fire or explosion.

“The batteries should only be operated in a commercial facility and require several external design parameters to operate safely. The batteries must have a system to monitor current, voltage, temperature and other conditions. They require strict environmental conditions to maintain temperature parameters and a water-cooling system in case of an overheating emergency,” it said.

The battery packs have a capacity of around 15kWh each meaning a total stolen capacity of 1.5MWh, worth around US$300,000 according to the Department.

Because the batteries were decommissioned and housed separately to the live containerised battery storage units, they obviously had no implications for the system’s ability to provide services, nor did they impact the project’s insurance policy covering such incidents.

Terra-Gen is developing one of the largest battery storage projects in the world, totalling nearly 3,300MWh as part of the Edwards Sanborn Solar-plus-Storage facility in California.

The next edition of PV Tech Power, the quarterly journal of our sister site PV Tech, will include a feature about the physical security of battery storage as the technology becomes more widespread and well-known.

Energy-Storage.news’ publisher Solar Media will host the 5th Energy Storage Summit USA, 28-29 March 2023 in Austin, Texas. Featuring a packed programme of panels, presentations and fireside chats from industry leaders focusing on accelerating the market for energy storage across the country. For more information, go to the website.

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