The Goleta Planning Commission on Monday evening approved the development plan and conditional use permit for a new 60-megawatt lithium ion energy storage facility.

The Goleta Energy Storage facility will consist of 62 pre-manufactured energy storage “cabinets” called Megapacks. Each Megapack contains 17 Tesla battery modules.

The project also will include construction of an underground tie-in and electrical infrastructure in order to connect to the existing Southern California Edison Isla Vista substation.

According to the staff report, the facility will provide 87,600 megawatt-hours annually, which is equivalent to supplying annual energy demands to 13,257 homes in California.

Because Southern California Edison would be able to store power from solar- and wind-powered sources with the project, it is considered a renewable energy project. That makes the project consistent with Goleta’s Strategic Energy Plan and its goal of using 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Ryan Hulett with Upstream Clean Energy said that after the facility is online, Southern California Edison also will look into retiring the Ellwood peaker plant.

“It really is reducing fossil fuel use. The alternative to building these battery storage facilities was to build another power plant in Oxnard,” said Katie Davis, chair of the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter. “I am confident this will help us retire Ellwood, which is a very old and polluting power plant.”

The project also received support during public comment from representatives of the Clean Coalition.

The Goleta Energy Storage facility will be located at 6864 and 6868 Cortona Drive, southeast of the Storke Road and Highway 101 southbound on-ramp intersection. The facility is also directly adjacent to the new Cortona Point Apartment Complex, which isn’t occupied by tenants yet.

A hazards analysis and risk assessment report for the project showed a low probability of battery fires with one battery failure per 10,000 years.

The Megapacks also are designed to prevent fire from spreading, and power can be removed from affected cells if a fire does occur.

While specific zoning for the parking lot of the facility does not require electric vehicle charging stations, the Planning Commission did add a condition that the applicant add a minimum of two EV charging stations.

Some commissioners were wary of adding the condition, given how late in the approval process it was and since there are EV charging stations available across the street from the facility.

Ultimately, each commissioner who voted was in favor of approving the Goleta Energy Storage facility. Commissioner Jennifer Smith, who had concerns about the interpretation of the conditions and errata of the motion, abstained from voting.

“I don’t think any commissioner would question the utility and the benefit proposed by this project, but I would rather city staff take some time to take this back and get it right,” Smith said.

The errata involved the requirement that the applicant must provide environmental insurance for the project.

“While [the project] may not check every single box, I think it checks enough boxes for me to be supportive of and for the community and the Central Coast to benefit from,” Commissioner Sam Ramirez said.

According to Hulett, the Goleta Energy Storage facility will come online in about six months, and the capital cost for the project will be $50 million to 60 million.

Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.