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Jun 27, 2018 6:35 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Montauk Woman Sues East Hampton Town Over Battery Storage Approval

Clearing began recently where a battery storage facility and PSEG substation are planned.
Jul 2, 2018 4:36 PM

A Montauk woman has sued to overturn East Hampton Town’s approval of a power storage facility near the planned PSEG substation off Industrial Road.

Tonia Ries, a Navy Road resident who offered impassioned objections to the project during its review by the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals and its Planning Board, has filed two lawsuits in state court against the approvals issued by both boards. The suit claims they failed to conduct a thorough enough review of the environmental impacts of the project.

“I’ve lived here for 15 years … so I know the conditions when the waves are crashing up against the road and the groundwater comes up, and it’s absolutely incomprehensible that any engineer would want to put infrastructure in that kind of location,” Ms. Ries said. “I have neighbors who can’t do a single thing to their homes. I can’t even flatten my roofline because I’m pre-existing nonconforming. But we can give them [setback] variances on a tiny lot like that to put up a metal warehouse.”

The Planning Board issued its final approval in March, allowing a limited liability corporation called Montauk Energy Storage to construct a 4,100-square-foot aluminum building off Second House Road, between Industrial Road and the Long Island Rail Road tracks. The building would house several industrial batteries that could store as much as 5 megawatts of power, to be tapped when generated supplies are being stressed. The property sits immediately adjacent to the Long Island Power Authority-owned property where PSEG plans to relocate its Montauk substation later this year, and proximity to the power station was noted as a critical consideration in construction of the battery facility.

Board members had struggled with the application because the property sits in a low-lying area between Fort Pond and Fort Pond Bay that is seen as vulnerable to flooding in the event of a strong hurricane. Residents and board members had both roundly criticized PSEG for choosing to relocate its substation in the area. But the utility has said that the area is above anticipated flooding levels over the next 40 years, the expected useful life of the substation. As a public utility, the PSEG substation is not subject to local planning and zoning laws or review.

Ultimately the Planning Board majority, in a 4-3 vote, approved the battery project because on its own it appeared to meet the legal requirements for approval.

The lawsuit filed by Ms. Ries said that even before they granted their approvals, both boards had erred in issuing a “negative declaration” under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA, which deemed the project to be of little environmental consequence and not requiring an exhaustive, and time-consuming, review. The suit claims that a report submitted by the company on the potential for noise emitted by the battery facility indicated that it would exceed levels set in the town code, and should have precluded approvals that the Planning Board granted.

“In further violation of SEQRA, the Planning Board did not identify all relevant areas of environmental concern associated with the project,” the suit reads. “The Planning Board’s procedural and substantive violations of SEQRA were contrary to law.”

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A battery storage facility at low elevation a few blocks away from the bay -- what could possibly go wrong?
Anyone with an understanding of Montauk history knows there has never been devastating flooding in the Navy Road area. Why not also move the marinas to Navy Road?
By Aeshtron (431), Southampton on Jun 27, 18 10:26 PM
1 member liked this comment
Why don't they just keep the batteries in the fridge like my Grandma does? She's never wrong
By Pacman (273), Southampton on Jun 28, 18 10:09 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By poppy (2), east hampton on Jun 28, 18 7:50 PM