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Planning Board says proposed battery energy storage facility is not in appropriate location

For several weeks, residents and environmental groups have been speaking out against an 80-megawatt battery energy storage facility planned for a two-acre property in Greenport, due to its proximity to preserved land and wetlands.

In a formal response to a town Zoning Board of Appeals request for comments on the proposal, Planning Board members agreed that it’s not in the right location.

In the memo, which was submitted to the ZBA last week, the Planning Board states that the rear portion of the property is located within sensitive wetland areas of Pipes Cove Creek and Moore’s Drain, which are significant coastal fish and wildlife habitat areas.

Following a site visit on Feb. 25, Planning Board members also took note of seasonal flooding evidenced by areas of standing water and saturated soils throughout the property.

“The threat of flooding from groundwater, soil conditions, sea level rise and hurricanes is a risk to the structures and facility,” the memo said.

In addition to environmental risks, Planning Board members believe the project, which could potentially require variances for lot coverage and setbacks, could set an unwanted precedent within the Light Industrial zoning district.

Kansas City-based energy storage company Savion is eyeing the property, located across Route 25 from Drossos Motel, for a battery storage facility that would be connected to a nearby LIPA substation. Developers say the facility would enhance reliability of the electrical grid and could store enough power to serve 28,746 homes for up to eight hours.

The project requires a special exception permit from the town ZBA.

In a rebuttal, Steven Losquadro, an attorney for the applicant, argued that the location is ideal and provides an “unparalleled existing facilities upgrade opportunity.”

He took issue with several points outlined in the Planning Board memo, including its determination that the property floods and its characterization of Route 25 as a scenic byway.

Mr. Losquadro also said the project’s status as a public utility project could exempt it from many wetland setback requirements and noted that of the two acres, just 0.49 acres are located within the environmentally sensitive area and would not lead to further land clearing or disruption to any rare or endangered species.

Many opponents of the plan have also cited the project’s potential impact and visibility from the ongoing Bay to Sound trail system.

But Mr. Losquadro said other man-made structures including the existing LIPA substation, National Grid peak generation plant, Drossos complex, Main Road and railroad tracks are already visible from the trails.

He believes the Planning Board’s determination is “premature” since it’s based on conceptual, not actual site plans.

The project’s ultimate configuration would depend on whether PSEG Long Island awards a bid to the developers as it attempts to solicit proposals for energy storage facilities across Long Island.

At a meeting last Thursday, the Zoning Board of Appeals, which is responsible for granting or denying the special exception, adopted lead agency status under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and issued a negative declaration, meaning no further environmental review will be required.