Let’s Learn a Lesson from Moss Landing

Some residents may not be aware of this, but just weeks ago, a CA coastal town, Moss Landing, had to endure a mandatory shelter–in-place order.  A lithium-ion battery fire at PG&E’s newest battery storage facility was the cause.  A Tesla Megapack was destroyed by fire, releasing toxic fumes, and causing a day-long shelter-in-place for the entire Moss Landing community.  This PG&E facility is located next to Vistra’s lithium battery storage site, which has had two emergency shut-downs in the past year.    

Residents had to be confined to their homes for 12 hours, with windows closed and ventilation systems turned off.  Businesses were not allowed to open.  Students had to shelter in place at their schools.  Highway 1 was closed down, resulting in a gridlock of traffic.    

These fires are not uncommon.  Last summer a Tesla Megapack caught fire at a giant battery project in Australia.  It required three days and a hazmat firefighting team to put it out.  The fact is that these lithium battery storage systems are still in their infancy and companies are in a learning curve to try to make these systems safe.    

Whether you support Lithium-ion Battery Energy Storage Systems is not the issue.  The issue is the location of Vistra’s proposed BESS facility.  Why build the world’s largest battery storage facility in the heart of Morro Bay?  In close proximity to businesses, homes, wildlife and sensitive habitats?  Vistra’s proposed location doesn’t belong in such a pristine and populated coastal community as Morro Bay.    

Picture a bustling summer day, when the Embarcadero is filled with tourists, and alarms start to sound from the Vistra plant.  How could you even begin to evacuate the waterfront?  What about surfers, people on the beach or on the bay, our wildlife?  Imagine students being locked in school for 12 hours or more.  Envision the gridlock of traffic at Highway 1, or Highway 41, because our highways would be shut down. This is the harsh reality that both residents and business owners need to be very aware of.    

Not to mention the potential health hazards for our residents and wildlife or the potential economic losses for our tourism industry, local businesses, and property values.  Instead of looking at the potential income of this facility, maybe Vistra, our City’s leaders, and the Coastal Commission should be looking at the potential losses. 

Mimi Black 

Morro Bay 

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