Home Tech A Tesla Megapack battery is on fire at a PG&E facility in California

A Tesla Megapack battery is on fire at a PG&E facility in California

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Tesla logo in red on black background
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A Tesla Megapack battery caught fire this morning at the local utility company PG&E’s Elkhorn Battery Storage facility in Monterey County, California, as reported by local news stations KSBW Action News 8 and KRON4.

The fire started at around 1:30AM this morning, according to PG&E’s operations comm manager, Jeff Smith. Smith tells The Verge that PG&E is working with fire and emergency services to provide enough space to safely stop the spread of the fire. As of 1:55PM ET, it appears that the fire is still burning.

Caltrans confirmed the fire closed a section of Highway 1 as fire crews deployed units to handle the blaze and followed up with another tweet noting that as of 1:20PM ET, a hard closure remains in effect. No injuries were reported at the scene.

According to Smith, the Tesla batteries were automatically disconnected from the grid thanks to safety systems that were in place that could detect problems.

The Vistra Zero facility, long building at center, at the Moss Landing Power Plant with a similar Tesla facility behind it in Moss Landing, Calif., on Wednesday, January 13, 2021. Vistra Zero is the largest energy storage system of its kind in the world,
Photo By Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
The Vistra Zero facility, long building at center, at the Moss Landing Power Plant with a similar Tesla facility behind it.

The Elkhorn battery facility, located at Moss Landing, houses a 182.5-megawatt Tesla Megapack system originally announced in 2019. The facility is owned and operated by PG&E, but it was designed, built, and is also maintained by both Tesla and the utility company. Smith said PG&E does not expect the fires to cause customers any outages.

California’s electric grid is connected to multiple battery storage facilities, including Vistra Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility, a 400-megawatt setup across two buildings adjacent to Elkhorn. The higher power operation houses batteries built by LG Energy Solutions, and according to Mercury News, it was shut down earlier this year due to at least two separate issues with overheating batteries.

In July, Vistra restarted the facilities while operating at 98 percent of max capacity “after implementing identified corrective actions, including related to connectors in the water-based heat suppression system.” It’s currently building a 350-MW Phase III expansion and mentioned plans for a phase four setup that would raise the site’s capacity to 1,500 MW.



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