What is now a swath of farmland on Oregon Road in Cutchogue could soon become a 60 megawatt battery energy storage facility.

An application by Albany-based Key Capture Energy, responding to the state’s push toward new non-carbon sources of energy, will be heard before both the Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) and Planning Board in the upcoming week.

This is not the first time a battery storage facility has come before Southold’s land use boards — the ZBA granted a special exception use permit for an 80-megawatt facility on Route 25 in Greenport last year. That project, submitted by Savion Energy of Kansas City, Mo., is expected to begin commercial operation in 2025, said a Savion spokesperson.

Like the Savion project, the Key Capture Energy facility would also be located on property zoned Light Industrial, but unlike the Savion project it would be on 11 acres of a 27 acre property, not 2 acres. 

Much of the public opposition to the Savion project was due to its proximity to wetlands and to vast acreage of preserved land surrounding Pipe’s Cove. The ZBA approved that zone change in a 4-0 vote in May of 2021.

The Cutchogue property at 10750 Oregon Road, which is currently being farmed and is owned by longtime Cutchogue farmers F. McBride & Son, is in the midst of a swath of light industrial zoned land, some of which is still being farmed, that comprises the block between Depot and Cox lanes between Route 48 and Oregon Road.

Key Capture Energy is looking to install 272 battery energy storage container units, 34 power conversion system units and a 1,000-square-foot interconnection building on the property, and also to subdivide out 2.5 acres, to be owned by the Long Island Power Authority, for a 392-square-foot LIPA substation. 

This substation would be connected to the grid on Route 48 by an overhead transmission line strung on 13 poles, partially through an access easement over Southold Town’s mulch operation, though the applicant plans to present information on potential underground wiring to the Planning Board, said Phil Denara of Key Capture Energy, this week.

PSEG-Long Island and the New York State Energy Research Development Agency (NYSERDA) have been encouraging the development of battery energy storage systems to replace older fossil fuel-fired “peaker plants,” which are turned on during times of peak electric demand, such as hot summer afternoons, throughout Long Island.

These battery systems, which are tied into the grid, store excess energy produced during times of low demand and then return that energy to the grid when demand increases. They are expected to become an even more vital part of the electric infrastructure when major renewable energy initiatives like offshore wind begin to come online, enabling that energy to be stored after it is produced to be used when it is needed.

In 2020, PSEG-Long Island issued a request for information from developers interested in supplying up to 130 megawatts of battery energy storage to be built on the North Fork. PSEG-Long Island is expected to shortly issue a more formal Request for Proposals (RFP) for those projects. 

New York’s 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act set a target that 70 percent of the state’s electricity be produced from renewable resources by 2030, and that the grid be carbon-free by 2040. Included in those targets is a 3,000 megawatt statewide energy storage goal, to be met by 2030.

The public will have a chance to weigh in and hear a great deal more about the Cutchogue proposal in the upcoming week. On Thursday, Dec. 1, Southold’s Zoning Board of Appeals will hear public comments on Key Capture Energy’s requests for three variances from the town code — on whether an energy storage facility can be interpreted to be a public utility, on whether they should be granted a special exception use permit for the facility, and on variances for setbacks and tower height.

Public utilities are known as a “special exception use” in Southold’s light Industrially-zoned areas, meaning they are allowed if the Zoning Board approves the use after a public hearing.

Later on the evening of Dec. 1, at 6:30 p.m., a group of concerned homeowners will hold a public meeting at the Southold American Legion, 51655 Main Road, Southold, to discuss their concerns about fire safety and battery storage.

Mr. Denara, of Key Capture Energy, said the lithium battery containers “are equipped with a number of key safety systems including Battery Management System which monitors battery voltage, current and temperature. The software can autonomously shut down the unit and disconnect the battery if a threshold is met.” 

“There is also an internal fire suppression system (within each container), heat, smoke, and gas detection systems, exhaust ventilation system, as well as a number of electrical fault protections to limit the potential for failure to occur and mitigate the impact of a battery failure,” he added.

On Monday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m., the Southold Town Planning Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed site plan for the project and the subdivision for the LIPA substation.      —BHY

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

3 thoughts on “Cutchogue Battery Storage Plan Up for Public Review

  1. Beth, who is hosting the informational session at the American Legion in Southold on the Battery Storage?
    Thank you

  2. You didn’t mention the word “ lithium “ at all. This is for a LITHIUM battery storage facility. You also neglected to mention the dangers of such facilities. Once a fire starts it can create “ thermal runway “ , something that no fire department on the east end is prepared to fight.
    A fire at that proposed facility would be a economic and environmental disaster. Fires at other such facilities have occurred and those firefighters have warned about such facilities. Several firefighters were killed and injured fighting those fires.
    Lithium battery storage facilities should NEVER be placed in close proximity to homes, or fertile farmland!
    A fire would require evacuation of at least a half mile of in any direction of the fire. That would be next to impossible on the Northfork!
    These facilities are new , and safety is not coming first. It’s not a matter of if a fire will occur, it’s when.
    You don’t have to look far to see reports of lithium batteries in electric bikes, cars , buses combusting into flames, these fires are next to impossible to extinguish.
    This facility has no business being placed here on the east end. It belongs in a isolated place.

  3. I want to know, did key capture energy perform UL tests for safety and thermal runway?? If not, why not? If they did, I want to see the FULL report. See link below for the UL testing information.
    Where’s the evacuation plan ? Who is the proposed insurer for such a facility? I would want to see information from the insurance company. I don’t see any insurance company taking that on knowing that local fire departments are NOT prepared for such a fire. We have homes , schools, and businesses in close proximity to the proposed site.
    Who’s paying to relocate residents and businesses who may have to leave, for perhaps days in the event of a fire? You can bet it won’t be key capture energy or their insurers!

    I have read about recent lithium battery storage facility fires in other states, the aftermath was devastating to the communities they occurred in , and resulted in loss of life and injuries of the firefighters who tried to extinguish the fires.
    In one instance the local town authorities , power utility company, and battery facility operators attempted to cover up the approvals and subsequent fire. Residents were not aware of what the facility was, until AFTER the fire. Even local fire departments didn’t know. Is that what’s happening here ?!

    Aside from destroying the natural beauty of the north fork with such an eyesore, it does not appear that safety of locals is being put at the forefront.
    Don’t get me started on what a farce this “ clean energy “ really is all about with regards to mining lithium, disposal of lithium batteries, etc -. Their thinking is , you have to ruin the earth to save it !

    A facility like this has no business being placed on the Northfork. I question the motives of the town officials who think this is a good idea. Does anyone stand to profit, monetarily ,and or otherwise?

    The land owner is certainly going to see a nice paycheck for this. His neighbors stand to lose money if they try to sell their homes or farms going forward if this facility is approved. I for one would never purchase a property with a lithium ion battery facility in close proximity.

    I urge local residents to attend the public town meeting on December 5th, and ask the hard questions.

    I also encourage everyone to call your local fire departments and ask them what their plan is to combat a fire at a lithium battery storage facility.

    Link for UL testing:

    https://www.energy-storage.news/ul-launches-free-energy-storage-fire-safety-test-database/

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