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Mar 13, 2018 4:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Planners Expected To Approve Energy Storage In Montauk

East Hampton is expected to approve a battery storage facility in Montauk this week.
Mar 14, 2018 7:58 AM

The East Hampton Town Planning Board is poised to approve a plan for a battery energy storage facility off Industrial Road in Montauk, despite almost all of the board's members expressing concerns about the flood-prone location of the facility.

Two board members, Job Potter and Patty Leber, said they were opposed to approving the project and a third, Kathy Cunningham, said she was "on the fence" about what her official position would be. But the remaining four members all expressed the belief that the project is either a good one or, at the very least, meets the code requirements for the special exception permit in an industrial zone that the developers are seeking, and a vote to approve it is expected at the board meeting this Wednesday, March 14.

"Like probably every other board member, if I were to pick a spot, this wouldn't be it," board member Ian Calder-Piedmont, said. "But we owe it to the town to apply our standards and if you meet them, we move forward."

The newest board member, Ed Krug, said he has "some reservations" but would support the project, while Nancy Keeshan and Randy Parsons both expressed strong support for approving the 4,100-square-foot building and the giant batteries it will house.

The location for the building, which has been proposed by a limited liability company called Montauk Energy Storage, seemed to be the number one reason for pause among everyone on the board—and was the focus of broad public objections to the project at a public hearing last year.

The half-acre parcel sits just 7 feet above sea level and many critics worried that placing such crucial community infrastructure on a narrow isthmus with water on both sides in this age of rising sea levels seemed inherently foolish. The company's plans call for the grade of the parcel to be raised another 5 feet before the building is constructed, putting it 12 feet above sea level, which is above flood levels forecast within the lifespan of the facility.

The land is also directly adjacent to 1.2 acres owned by the Long Island Power Authority, on which PSEG-Long Island plans to construct a new substation for the hamlet later this year.

The town had lobbied PSEG and LIPA extensively, trying to convince the utilities to build the substation in a location farther above sea level. By the time the Montauk Energy Storage application was filed those appeals had been rejected repeatedly. The utilities have refused to give the town any sort of regulatory oversight of the substation relocation project, citing a utility's exemption from local zoning rules.

The Planning Board, nonetheless, threatened denials of the battery project, which is seen as an important cog in PSEG's plans to utilize energy drawn from an offshore 
wind farm to power the South Fork.

The Planning Board has already approved a similar battery storage facility at the PSEG substation in East Hampton.

But at the board's last meeting, on March 7, some members remained resolute that the town should not put its stamp of approval anywhere on the LIPA-PSEG plans, just because the utilities refuse to budge.

"I find this to be an improper, impractical location," Ms. Leber, a Montauk resident, said. "It is surrounded by flood zone."

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Placing an electrical substation and battery storage site in a low-lying area two blocks from the bay...what could go wrong ; / ?
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Mar 13, 18 9:36 PM
MESS ... Montauk Energy Storage Solution.
Its an obvious acronym.
By dave h (193), calverton on Mar 14, 18 8:21 PM
Remember New Orleans ?????
By knitter (1941), Southampton on Mar 15, 18 8:16 PM
Let me remind everyone again -- LIPA exists to pay off debt incurred because Governor Cuomo 1 didn't want to let investors in the Shoreham nuclear plant to lose money. Why is it still a thing 35 years later? Is there no end to the black hole of corruption in our government?
By dfree (818), hampton bays on Mar 19, 18 12:43 PM