Planning Commission approves ion-lithium battery project

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on Feb. 26. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Santa Clarita Planning Commission approved an ion-lithium battery project Tuesday that is described as an effort to benefit the local community when wind events prompt power shutoffs.  

While some residents expressed their concern or worry over the safety of such a facility, with at least one asking the commission to do further research into the matter, the Planning Commission ultimately voted in favor of the project on a 4-1 vote. 

“I feel that this is a really good project. I’m just not sure if it’s in the right location given the technology,” said Planning Commissioner Renee Berlin, who cast the only dissenting vote. “It’s not that I’m against the project — I think it provides a really good benefit especially for Sand Canyon and Canyon Country that have the power issues over there. It’s just I’m not sure if it’s in the right location.”  

A number of the concerns expressed were from residents who would live adjacent to the facility, saying that they are both afraid of pollution in the area from the batteries, as well as the fire risk. 

The proposed use had been reviewed by the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the city’s Building and Safety Division to ensure compliance with all building code requirements, according to officials, who added that all existing access will be maintained, allowing access for emergency personnel. 

The Planning Commission heard from Placerita ESS, LLC officials who stated that while the batteries would not completely offset the Public Safety Power Shutoffs by Edison, they would help contribute to other projects happening throughout California that would offset some of the power diversions and cutoffs.  

The 55,000-square-foot, 80-megawatt facility planned for 3.5 acres of undeveloped land at 18358 Soledad Canyon Road, 450 feet east of the intersection of Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road, will be able to power a few thousand homes for a few hours during PSPS events, officials said, depending on the magnitude of the outage. 

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