EL CENTRO — The Imperial Irrigation District facility that uses industrial-scale batteries to store electric power generated by solar farms for later use requires the equivalent of seven full-time positions in a 24-hour period to operate, a district official said.
The location near Dogwood
Road and Villa Avenue in El Centro opened in 2016.
While the battery-storage
operation does not require full-time dedicated employees to manage, various
district employees oversee maintenance and power transmission, IID spokesman
Robert Schettler said.
The facility provides insight into what jobs might be created as Imperial County seeks to attract more battery-storage operations. One, the Westside Canal Battery Storage Complex, is being developed eight miles southwest of El Centro by New York’s ConEdison.
With the county
increasing its output of renewable energy through more solar farms, and the
state requiring more use of such energy, local officials are looking to make
the county a hub of battery storage.
The effort could lead to
up to 100 times the number of jobs created by the IID facility, said Tim
Kelley, executive director and president of the Imperial Valley Economic
Using the IID facility as
an example that could mean up to 700 jobs.
IVEDC has for several
years touted the development of battery storage as part of its marketing
Many local solar farm
developers, both operational and planned, have set aside land for additional
battery-storage projects, Kelley said.
The need stems from what
to do with the overproduction of solar energy in off-demand hours and filling
the gaps when renewable sources are not producing as much, such as when the sun
is not shining. Battery storage is a solution to both, Kelley added.
The Westside project is
expected to get county approval by the end of 2020 and have the first phase built
by 2022, said Michael Abraham, assistant director of the county Planning and
Development Services Department.