June 12, 2024

 

SEGURO UPDATE: WORKSHOP ON MAY 7th, 6PM TO 8PM

Tuesday, May 7, 6 to 8pm, San Marcos Community Center, 3 Civic Center Drive, San Marcos 92069

This the third of three “workshops” the developer plans on having. Read on for an update about the project and the recent workshops and what you can do.

Project Update:

Workshops
The dictionary defines workshop as follows: work·shop /ˈwərkˌSHäp/ noun, a meeting at which a group of people engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject or project.

The so-called workshops, thus far, have had very little in common with the accepted definition of the term (engaging in discussion) and quite a bit to do about defending their project to a hundred unhappy people in a series of one-sided presentations. At the first meeting, attendees were required to sign into a mobile app which captured information about their electrical usage, solar, battery ownership and other topics not relevant to the discussion at hand. Questions went unanswered or re-written by the moderator, presumably to fit their narrative. Following community protestation, at the second meeting, people were allowed to submit questions in writing. Still, at neither of the two meetings were people allowed to ask any questions out loud, in their own voice. Many felt that this was designed to stifle our concerns and our voice.

The second meeting was about public safety, though they did not provide much in the way of specifics. Despite the lack of specificity (and acknowledgement that they are only 10% into the design), they were extremely confident that, unlike the many other facilities that have caught fire in the past few years, their facility would be different. Essentially, there’s nothing to worry about, this time the engineers have it all figured out. Many questions went unanswered when they closed the meeting at 8pm leaving attendees frustrated.

  • AI transcript of workshop 2 (link).
  • Audio recording of the workshop 2 (link).
  • Screengrabs of presentation (link)
Community Response
In a very short time, opposition to the project has been galvanized. Over 2500 people have signed the petition, many have written letters to the Board of Supervisors. Organizers have cropped up in multiple communities including HG Village, Eden Valley, Elfin Forest and San Elijo Hills. At the last workshop, close to a 100 people showed up, many with signs opposing the project. CBS8 and Fox was there and covered the community’s opposition to the project.

About the project
In case you weren’t aware, the project proposes a 1280 MWh, or about 16,000 Tesla Model 3’s worth of batteries on 23 acres in Eden Valley. It would the largest project of its kind proposed in a 100% residential neighborhood surrounded by homes on all sides. Typically, these facilities are zoned in industrial areas or remote areas on account of the potential risk they pose due to something called “cascading thermal runaway.” Essentially, Lithium Ion cells are finicky and they have a nasty habit of catching fire and creating runaway reactions . When they do, the fires cannot be put out. They simply have to burn out which based on recent fires at similar facilities, can take anywhere from hours to days. When you have 6 million battery cells in a confined space, the risk increases exponentially. Needlesstosay, a project like this in San Diego County would set a precedent. If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

Media
There has been quite a bit of media on the project. AES is a publicly traded company with full time publicists, lobbyists and public affairs firms attempting to downplay the risk we face with this project, but the media is starting to see the light.

CBS8:  North County residents push back on plans for battery storage plant near Escondido
Fox5/KUSI: Proposed energy storage project near Escondido draws concern from neighbors
Coast News Group: Eden Valley residents push back against Seguro battery storage project
San Diego Union Tribune: Why this battery storage plant between Escondido and San Marcos has some residents upset
Escondido Times-Advocate: Residents collect 2K signatures to stop battery facility
Coast News Group: Residents remain opposed to Seguro battery facility despite changes
Fox5/KUSI: North County residents attend safety workshop for controversial proposed battery storage site
CBS8: A battery storage plant could come to Escondido. Neighbors are trying to stop it
SD Union Tribune: Battery storage is a key piece of California’s clean energy transition. But there’s a problem with fires.

Next Steps:
The developer, AES, is working on producing an EIR (Environmental Impact Report). The report is supposed to outline all the impacts the project may have on the environment and what they will do to mitigate those risks.  The County expects the Draft EIR to come in the next 3 to 6 months (and possibly longer). The process is as follows:

  • Draft EIR released for public review (45 days usually).
  • Community provides comments
  • County holds a DEIR hearing for people to weigh in.
  • Developer and county need to respond to all the comments in a legally defensible way.
  • Revised DEIR is released with responses to comments with another public review.
  • Final EIR is presented to Planning Commission for a vote.
  • If approved, it can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors by opponents.
  • If denied, it can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors by the proponent.
What can you do?
If you are opposed to the project, you should sign the petition and be prepared to write letters when the time comes. You can always write letters to your elected official (in our case Supervisor Lawson-Remer) whenever you want, but it is most effective during the comment period for the EIR.

Come to the next workshop, ask questions and hold up a sign to show your opposition to the project.

Sign the Petition