As if California doesn’t have enough wildfire hazards, its drive to banish fossil fuels from the electric grid is creating another. On Tuesday a Tesla battery at a utility storage site in Monterey County caught fire, triggering the shutdown of the state’s scenic coastal highway and shelter-in-place warnings for local residents.
California utilities have been installing large-scale batteries to back up renewables and provide power when the sun goes down. But now we’re learning that batteries have their own reliability problems. It’s not clear how utility PG&E’s enormous 182.5 megawatt Tesla battery caught fire Tuesday, but the site had to be disconnected from the grid.