West Texas Town Runs On Batteries. Actually, Just One Very, Very Big Battery

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Outside of changing them in our car or our Fleshlight, Hair Balls never spent much time thinking about batteries. But the folks in the tiny west Texas town of Presidio owe their lives, more or less, to a gigantic, house-sized battery.

Until the advent of BOB (Big Old Battery) the only thing linking Presidio to the electrical grid was a single 60-year-old transmission line prone to power outages. And according to Popular Mechanics, Presidio used to deal with such outages by transferring the "town's electrical load over to Mexico." But even that would leave people without power for extended periods of time.

As City Administrator Brad Newton told National Geographic, the area between Marfa (about a mile above sea level) and Presidio, is "one of the hottest places in the nation....It really creates a situation unique to our geographic area."

Enter the $25 million BOB, however, which "can supply four megawatts of uninterrupted power for up to eight hours," according to the company that built it, Electric Transmission Texas. It's considered the largest sodium sulfur battery in the country -- even bigger than the D-size batteries in our boom box! According to National Geographic, the battery system "consists of 80 modules, 8,000 pounds each, constructed by the Japanese firm NGK-Locke. They were shipped to Long Beach, California...and transported to Texas aboard 24 trucks."

The company's president, Calvin Crowder, said during an NPR interview this week that BOB might even be a testing ground for use of these freakish batteries "for purposes of wind power or solar storage," which sounds good to Hair Balls. We just feel sorry for whoever has to throw the thing out when it runs out of juice.

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