EL CENTRO — The Imperial County Board of Supervisors approved several items to move along the Planning Commission’s CED Westside Canal Battery Storage Project after a scheduled public hearing at the Board’s regular meeting Tuesday, Dec. 7.
The project — which is a utility-scale, stand-alone energy storage complex with the capacity of up to 2,000 Megawatts at full build-out — will be located on about 163 acres of land in the unincorporated Mount Signal area, which is about 8 miles southwest of El Centro and 5 miles north of the US-Mexico Border, according to Imperial County Planning and Development Services Director Jim Minnick.
“The reason I wanted to point out stand-alone is we have approved battery storage on conventional solar projects … This is the first private project that we’re having,” said Minnick.
The project will be comprised of lithium-ion or flow battery energy storage system facilities, a behind-the-meter solar energy facility, a new on-site 230 kilovolt loop-in switching station, underground electrical cables, and permanent vehicular access over a proposed clear-span bridge spanning Imperial Irrigation District’s Westside Main Canal.
The Board approved the resolution for the approval of the water supply assessment, the certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), adoption of the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, approval of the development agreement, approval of the general plan amendment, approval of the zone change, and approval of the conditional use permit.
The land use approval saw the zoning for the land change from heavy agriculture to medium industrial. Minnick said the farmland of that area has been unfarmed for approximately 20 years.
“This is actually designated as farmland. It has not been farmed for several decades,” he said.
The initial stages of the project began in April 2020 to begin the assessments and analysis that was needed for the requested items.
Director of business development at Consolidated Edison Development Curtis Kebler, the applicant, addressed the Board following Minnick’s presentation.
“We are part of the clean energy businesses … We’ve got a significant portfolio of solar, wind, and battery storage projects,” he said. “The Con Edison Development Company was actually formed in 1996. Today, it’s the second largest producer of solar power across all of northern US.”
Con Edison Development has about 800 Megawatts of solar operating in the state of California, and about 100 Megawatts in Imperial County, according to Kebler.
He said the company is currently contemplating building the Westside Canal Battery Storage Project in phases over a 10-year period.
“It’s a really important location and we think having a big battery project right there will help with reliability. It will help integrate future solar projects, and it’s really an ideal location," said Kebler.