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Energy facility pitched for land Southold Town marked for preservation

In the rush toward more renewable energy, companies are also readying proposals for energy storage projects to address the intermittency of solar and wind production.

One energy company is eyeing a 2-acre property in Greenport for a new battery storage project that could store enough power for 28,746 homes for up to eight hours. But before it can be built, the applicants must receive a special exception permit from the town Zoning Board of Appeals, which is also seeking input from the Planning Board. And the environmental sensitivity of the property could be an obstacle for the developer.

At a Planning Board work session Monday, town planner Mark Terry provided an overview of the plans, which would develop a 2-acre parcel along Route 25 in Greenport with battery storage enclosures that could feed nearly 80 megawatts of power into the grid via an underground transmission line. The LIPA substation is located approximately 750 feet northeast of the property.

In its application, Suffolk County Energy Storage II, which is owned by renewable energy company Savion of Kansas City, said the facility would improve local grid reliability and help decrease greenhouse gas emissions.

The property is located across the street from Drossos and is within the town’s Light Industrial zoning district, which allows for public utility structures by special exception.

In his report, Mr. Terry noted that the property is located within an environmentally sensitive area that’s also listed on the town’s Community Preservation Plan, Suffolk County Master List and 2016 New York State Open Space Plan. 

“This parcel is a target to add to the preservation efforts in that area,” Mr. Terry said, due to its ecological significance and proximity to Pipes Cove Creek.

The property would also be visible from the Bay to Sound trail currently underway and officials expressed some concern over safety issues posed by the facility.

Though it is not located within a flood zone, projections show the property may be impacted by hurricanes and sea level rise over time.

Despite these disadvantages, Mr. Terry pointed out that the plans call for extensive screening and would not have air quality, traffic or wastewater impacts.

He also noted that the storage facility is less intense than others allowed in the Light Industrial zone outright.

“Other uses in the LI zone could have much larger impacts on the adjacent properties as well as the underlying aquifer,” Mr. Terry said.

Zoning Board of Appeals chair Leslie Kanes Weisman said there are still “many steps” the applicant must take before the project could begin.

“They need a whole lot of approvals. Right now, it’s not even a certainty that the project will go through,” Ms. Weisman said, alluding to a forthcoming bulk storage request for proposal expected to be issued by PSEG LI early this year.

The new focus on battery storage facilities, which fill intermittency gaps by taking electricity from the grid when demand is low and returning energy when renewables have reduced output, ties into statewide renewable energy goals.

According to Ms. Weisman, RFPs evaluated by the utility company will consider the likelihood of local permit approvals in their process.

In addition, the applicants would need approval for required setbacks, Department of Transportation and other approvals.

A public hearing on the special exception will be held during the Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on Feb. 4 at 1:20 p.m. Ms. Weisman said the hearing will be kept open as they await formal comments from Planning Board members.