Everyone knows that lithium batteries have been the cause of unexplained fires in cars, hover boards, cell phones, etc. Google the words “spontaneous fires” and “lithium batteries” and you get the picture. So why would we want a plant with 180,000 lithium-ion batteries in the heart of Morro Bay? Not only is there the potential for a catastrophic fire, there are also highly toxic fumes released that pose hazardous health risks to our community and wildlife.
Vistra’s slideshow presentation to our City Council was simplistic at best. Nowhere did it address the possible risks of its proposed facility. For example, in 2019, eight fire fighters and one officer were hospitalized because of an explosion at a small electric substation in Surprise, AZ due to battery failure. There have been two devastating fires associated with a Hawaiian BESS (Battery Energy Storage System) facility in Kahuku, on Oahu’a Northshore. (Details and video of the fire are on Hawaii News Now). South Korea, a global leader in battery manufacturing, has had almost two-dozen BESS fires, resulting in a government probe.
Not only is this proposed facility a major fire risk, but, aesthetically, it would be visually offensive for residents and visitors. The two Vistra BESS facilities under construction in Half Moon Bay and Oakland are located in heavy industrialized areas that are not surrounded by homes, businesses, tourism, or our beloved Morro Bay Rock and coastline.
Reading into the environmental reports at the Half Moon Bay site, schools are not allowed to be within a quarter of a mile of these facilities, but Morro Bay High School is directly north of the project within the radius.
I highly encourage readers and the City Council to do their own research into Lithium-ion Battery Energy Storage Systems. Also, read documentation from the Monterey County Resource Management Agency about the Half Moon Bay project. Look at the construction traffic (maximum of 924 vehicle trips were allowed per day in Half Moon Bay), the construction noise due to the use of heavy equipment, the air quality impacts, and the effects on wildlife and habitats (Morro rendering backs up to Morro Creek) and come to your own conclusions.
Mimi Black
Morro Bay