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Terra-Gen to investigate cause of Valley Center California BESS fire with ‘incident over’

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Developer Terra-Gen will now investigate the cause of a fire at its Valley Center BESS in California, with public safety measures lifted and the incident considered “over”.

A battery storage unit in the Valley Center Energy Storage System caught fire at approximately 5.15 pm local time yesterday (18 September), Terra-Gen said in media statement provided to Energy-Storage.news.

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Fire and Sheriff’s departments were dispatched, roads were closed and an evacuation order for the surrounding 1/4 mile was issued, while a shelter in place for the 1/2 mile around the site was also issued, however these were only kept in place for at most four hours.

The facility’s design kept the incident contained and the measures were lifted by 9.15 pm the same evening, Terra-Gen said in a statement at 5.05 am local time (Pacific Daylight Time) today (19 September).

San Diego County Hazardous Materials team monitored the air and water around the site during the incident and found no hazardous conditions, the statement added, finishing:

“Now that the incident is over, Terra-Gen will investigate the cause of the fire with the support of
the Valley Center Fire Department.”

The project, near San Diego, was announced as online by Terra-Gen in March 2022 and has an energy storage capacity of 140MW/560MWh.

It made headlines earlier this year when some 100 LG lithium-ion battery packs were stolen from late December 2022 through January 2023. Energy-Storage.news was told by Terra-Gen in March, a few weeks after the incident, that these were decommissioned, palletised and awaiting transportation to a recycling centre.

Asked why these were decommissioned, the spokesperson a week later said that a “a sensor system fault triggered the water-based protection systems resulting in the batteries in question to be taken out of service”.

Faulty sprinkler systems have also been described as the cause of several other notable fires at large-scale battery storage projects, including Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility, also in California.

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