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Resident Opposition to Battery Energy Storage Facility Intensifies

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Residents display their opposition to the proposed lithium battery-powered facility.

Dozens of residents from Somers and Mahopac took to the streets once again Saturday to display their opposition to a proposed lithium battery-powered facility.

Motorists who passed by the contingency of protestors in front of Mahopac Library honked their horns in support of the effort to try to stop the Union Energy Center from being built on about 95 acres on Miller and Union Valley roads in the Town of Carmel, close to the Somers border.

“It doesn’t belong in the neighborhood,” said Paul Harold, a resident of Cornelius Lane in Somers, who mentioned the number of residents opposed to the project has grown in recent weeks to more than 3,300. “It’s just not the right place. We’re not going to stop.”

“I think we’re making a difference,” said Maria DeSimone, a 37-year resident of Center Road in Mahopac. “It’s scary. It’s not going to be monitored. Nobody’s going to be watching it.”

East Point Energy, a firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia, has proposed constructing a 116-megawatt battery energy storage system, two substations and two enclosure pads.

The purpose of the facility is to ensure the energy grid supplies a resilient and reliable source of power by storing energy from wind and solar and other energy sources, then releasing it into the grid during peak demand.

Several adjacent homeowners are concerned about the safety of the operation and the possibility of it catching fire.

“Every time you open up a newspaper there’s a fire somewhere,” DeSimone said. “I watch my grandchildren. God forbid there’s an explosion while I’m there. My house will go up.”

“It’s bad news,” remarked Scott Maoriello of Lounsbury Lane in Somers. “We just see it as reckless and irresponsible.”

East Point Energy has stated the facility is in compliance with and will adhere to all local, state and federal authorities and is safe for nearby residents.

“Energy storage projects are regularly built and operated in urban areas around the U.S. and across the world, with very high safety records,” East Point Energy has stated.

Residents also expressed concerns about the possible negative effects of the facility on the watershed and complained about learning about the project at the last minute.

“It’s been in the works for four years. We found out by accident,” said Barbara Ciofrone, a 40-year resident of Lounsbury Lane. “We’re really ticked off. This is ridiculous.”

The Carmel Town Board is planning on holding a public hearing later this month on possibly enacting a moratorium on energy storage systems. The project is currently before the Carmel Planning Board.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Peter Harckham (D/Lewisboro) is introducing legislation to support local governments as they contend with other proposals for energy storage systems or “battery farms.”

Harckham stated the legislation would “ensure sound siting, best standards for energy storage system safety and guarantee all stakeholders are heard.”




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