Canadian company requesting permits for new energy facility in San Luis Obispo County

Plans to construct a new energy storage plant are in the works in San Luis Obispo County.

The energy facility would be located on the west side of Highway One between Quintana Road and Canet Road at the city limits of Morro Bay.

Hydrostor, a Canadian business established in 2010, is planning on bringing their flagship project, a long-duration energy storage center called the “Pecho Energy Storage Center,” to the Central Coast.

Hydrostor Senior Vice President of Commercial Affairs Curt Hildebrand, a Cal Poly graduate of 1985, said San Luis Obispo County’s energy and electrical infrastructure history helped make it a prime target for the new facility.

“Given the Morro Bay power plant and its recent retirement, given Diablo Canyon and its upcoming retirement, the opportunity definitely presented itself to repurpose a lot of that electrical infrastructure and cite new generation capacity in the county,” said Hildebrand.

With Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant set to close by 2025, the new facility would act as a 400-megawatt, eight-hour storage facility utilizing compressed air with no carbon emissions.

The Pecho Energy Storage Center project began over one year ago, and construction is expected to take four years to complete the facility.

“The Pecho Energy Storage Center will really enhance the overall reliability and will reduce blackouts for future Central Coast consumers,” said Hildebrand. “The difference between a typical generation facility like Diablo Canyon and our long-duration storage facility is we store surplus or excess energy from the grid when there is surplus renewable generation.”

The company says the project is expected to contribute over $500 million to the San Luis Obispo County economy, creating jobs for 200-450 construction workers as well as 30-40 new full-time family-wage positions.

“We see it as an opportunity to re-deploy a lot of the existing oil and gas employees in the region,” said Hildebrand.

For the plan to be approved, the California Energy Commission must approve Hydrostor’s application.

“If the energy commission approves the application, that’s when it would come back to San Luis Obispo County, the state, the local agencies, everybody would be taking a look at it, and obviously we’d want public input,” said County of San Luis Obispo Public Information Specialist, Jeanette Trompeter.

An environmental assessment would have to be done to abide by the California Environment Quality Act for the project to be approved.

Hydrostor filed their permit applications to the California Energy Commission Tuesday.

The California Public Utilities Commission ordered the utilities and load-serving entities in California to procure over 11,000 megawatts of storage capacity to facilitate the state’s future needs to transition to a carbon-free grid.

According to Hydrostor, this project would be consistent with the state guidelines as it is considered a long-duration facility instead of a battery facility.