Scott Drury
SDG&E President Scott Drury announces the new battery backup facilities. Photo by Chris Jennewein

San Diego Gas & Electric announced Monday it will double its battery backup capacity to support the growth of renewable energy in its service area.

The utility plans to build five more lithium-ion battery backup facilities — including one of the biggest in the United States — over the next three years.

The new plants in Escondido, Fallbrook, Miramar, Poway and San Juan Capistrano will add nearly 100 megawatts of capacity — enough to power 55,000 homes over four hours.

SDG&E President Scott Drury made the announcement at a utility yard near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. Behind him was an aging peaking power plant that will be replaced by the batteries.

“San Diego Gas & Electric is at the forefront of the industry in terms of energy storage,” said Drury. “We are one of the leaders in clean, renewable energy.”

Already the utility generates 44 percent of its power from solar and wind, but Drury said more battery backup is key to increasing that share. It’s a “shock absorber,” he said, storing or releasing power as neeeded.

“There are times of the day when there is either an excess of energy or not enough renewable energy to meet demand,” he explained.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer applauded the utility’s announcement, saying it supports “our collective journey towards a cleaner and greener” San Diego environment.

“This ticks off a lot of boxes for the City of San Diego,” he said.

Craig Horne, vice president of business development for renewable energy contractor RES Group, said battery backup is more flexible than other technologies because facilities can be built in just six months to a year — far quicker than traditional power plants.

The largest of the new battery facilities, with a capacity of 40 megawatts, will be built in Fallbrook.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.