Pictured Above: The proposed battery storage site on Route 25 in Greenport.
Battery energy storage facilities are gaining attention as a major part of the renewable energy economy, but the siting of such facilities remains the subject of hot debate.
The Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals will hear public comments Thursday, Feb. 4 on a proposal by the energy storage company Savion, of Kansas City, Mo. to build an 80 megawatt battery storage facility to tie into a LIPA substation on Route 25 just west of Greenport, across the street from Drosso’s Motel and Tick Tock Miniature Golf.
The project, dubbed Suffolk County Energy Storage II, LLC., would be on a two-acre lot zoned for Light Industrial use, but it needs a special exception use permit from the Zoning Board before it can be built.
The proposed project is in the middle of a patchwork of preserved and proposed-to-be preserved land adjacent to Pipes Cove, and Arshamomack Preserve and it has drawn the attention of environmentalists and community groups.
The Greenport Civic Association and the Group for the East End released a PowerPoint presentation this week describing the proposal as a good project in the wrong location.
They said that lithium ion batteries should not be located in fragile wetlands, requested that a nearby gas generator sited across Route 25 in 1964 be relocated to a safer location, that the ZBA “should reject all variances” and “Southold Town should immediately rezone outdated industrial zoning of environmentally sensitive lands.”
They did say that battery storage is “better than expanding fossil fuel generating plants to meet peak demands.”
Southold Town’s Land Preservation Coordinator, Melissa Spiro, also weighed in in a Jan. 29 letter, pointing out that $12.7 million has been spent to preserve 325 acres of environmentally sensitive land in the immediate vicinity of the proposed storage area, which would also be visible from about 550 feet of the publicly-funded Bay to Sound Trail.
Battery energy storage facilities can be used to help meet peak demand, which had been met until recently by gas-fired “peaker plants” that run during times of high electric demand.
Battery storage is also an essential part of New York State’s goal of producing all of its electricity from renewable power by the year 2040 — because renewable energy needs to be stored for use when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing — and the New York State Energy Research & Development Agency has begun awarding contracts to battery storage companies to help meet those goals.
The public hearing began on Thursday, Feb. 4, and has been held over to Thursday March 4. Public meetings begin at 10 a.m. We will have more information on the timing of the public hearing when it becomes available.
Public comments can be made at the hearing, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to the Southold Town Zoning Board of Appeals, P.O. Box 1179, Southold, NY 11971.