SDG&E battery storage facility
An SDG&E battery storage facility in Miramar. Photo courtesy of the utility

Following a summer of record temperatures in California, San Diego Gas & Electric has ramped up its investment in electricity storage and microgrids to keep power flowing during demand spikes.

The utility announced Thursday the start of testing for the company’s new 40 megawatt lithium battery facility in Fallbrook — big enough to power 25,000 homes — and broke ground for a storage and microgrid project in Tierrasanta. 

SDG&E has about 95 megawatts of storage currently available, with another 200 megawatts in development. The facilities store power generated by solar and wind energy and can release it as needed.

Four microgrids are planned to keep key San Diego facilities online. The one in Tierrasanta will power Fire Station 39, the Tierrasanta Public Library Cool Zone, Tierrasanta Medical Center, Jean Farb Middle School, Canyon Hills High School, and Tierrasanta and Kumeyaay Elementary Schools.

“Innovations like storage and microgrids are vital to building a more resilient electric grid that can extend the availability of renewable energy into peak demand hours and better prepare communities to manage through emergencies,” said Miguel Romero, vice president for energy innovation.

Romero was joined by City Councilmember Raul Campillo at the groundbreaking in Tierrasanta.

“Extreme weather events, like the recent record heatwave, require our region to strengthen our emergency preparedness and resiliency,” said Campillo. “Investing in innovative clean energy technology like the Tierrasanta microgrid will bolster public safety while also bringing economic opportunity to local, family-owned businesses.”

During last month’s heatwave, California’s 4,000 megawatts of energy storage supplied 4% of electricity needs during peak demand, helping the state avoid rolling blackouts.

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