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 Development Corp.
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 strategy.
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.
This story is featured in the Jan 30, 2020 e-Edition.