Laguna Beach moves forward with plan for Tesla batteries at Food Pantry, ASL

Cars line up to receive free groceries at Laguna Food Pantry in December 2020. Photo by Daniel Langhorne

The City Council approved an agreement Tuesday with Swell Services, Inc. to purchase, install, and maintain 14 Tesla Powerwall II batteries to provide backup power at the Alternative Sleeping Location and Laguna Food Pantry.

In December 2020, councilmembers directed city staff to apply for and receive funding from the State’s Self Generation Incentive Program to move forward with the project. The state conditionally awarded the grant in February.

Swell would maintain the batteries for a 10-year term and could potentially be extended for a five-year term or the city could decide to purchase the batteries outright in the sixth year.

The Tesla batteries would also allow the nonprofit Friendship Shelter and Laguna Food Pantry to reduce energy consumption within their buildings during peak hours at 20652 Laguna Canyon Road.

Laguna Food Pantry’s leaders were thrilled to hear the City Council approved the agreement with Swell Energy, Anne Belyea, executive director of Laguna Food Pantry, wrote in an email. To accommodate the increased demand for food since the pandemic, the Pantry purchased and installed an 80 foot by 20 foot, outdoor walk-in refrigerator and several inside refrigerators and freezer.

“These batteries are critical in safeguarding our operations and providing peace of mind knowing that the perishable food items will remain safe in case of a power outage,” Belyea wrote.

Dawn Price, executive director of the ASL’s operator Friendship Shelter, lauded Belyea for spearheading the effort to secure an emergency power source.

“We’re grateful to her and to the funders, as it is an added safety measure to have ongoing power in the event of an emergency to limit interruption of services like telephone, internet, lighting, [and] heating/cooling,” Price wrote in an email.

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