Oxnard creates a model for the energy transition by fusing environmental justice with cutting-edge technology.
What hits you first is how humble it looks. A series of white metal boxes on two dusty acres across the street from farmland. It emits no fumes and makes barely a murmur. It’s one of the biggest grid batteries in the world.
The collection of Tesla Megapacks, formally unveiled Tuesday, delivers enough power to run the coastal city of Oxnard, Calif., for four hours in a pinch. Most of the time, the battery serves the broader grid, soaking up California’s surplus midday solar power and then delivering electricity during more expensive evening hours.
What sets this battery apart from others like it is that it enabled local activists to stop a plan to build a new gas plant in its tracks, in a long-shot environmental-justice campaign that points to where the clean energy transition is headed.
Now the battery site demonstrates how to locate large amounts of power within populated areas, said John Breckenridge, head of clean energy infrastructure at Capital Dynamics, which owns the battery.
“We’re now going to be able to bring people here and [show that] this is pretty benign,” he said. “It doesn’t make any noise, no pollution — it’s all protected.”