EnvironmentThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Somers Hires Legal Counsel in Battery Energy Storage Fight

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The Somers Town Board last week retained legal services as opposition to a proposed lithium battery-powered facility on the border of Somers and the Town of Carmel continues to mount.

The board unanimously agreed at its June 13 meeting to hire the White Plains firm Abrams Fensterman, a few days before the Carmel Town Board is set to hold a public hearing on possibly imposing a six-month moratorium on energy storage systems.

“We said we would get special counsel if we needed it,” Somers Supervisor Robert Scorrano said.

East Point Energy, based in Virginia, has proposed constructing a 116-megawatt battery energy storage system, two substations and two enclosure pads on about 95 acres on Miller and Union Valley roads in Carmel.

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

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.

However, adjacent homeowners are concerned about the safety of the operation and the possibility of it catching fire. Residents also expressed concerns about the possible negative effects of the facility on the watershed.

Scott Maoriello of Lounsbury Lane in Somers told the Somers Town Board last week “the fight has really just begun.”

“Six months is way too short,” he said of the proposed moratorium. “One year would have been preferred.”

State Senator Peter Harckham (D/Lewisboro) has introduced legislation to support local governments as they contend with other proposals for energy storage systems or “battery farms.”

Meanwhile, State Assemblyman Matt Slater (R/Yorktown) has written a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, signed by each supervisor in the 94th Assembly District, that focuses on state protections for the watershed, modifying the state’s model law pertaining to battery storage, increasing setbacks for projects adjacent to or within residential zones and advocating for local control of those projects.

“Although there must be a fair and transparent process to build out New York’s renewable energy infrastructure, a one-size-fits-all state mandate will place an undue burden on local communities and, inevitably, fail to reflect our state’s geographic diversity,” Slater said in a press release.

Scorrano is one of the supervisors that supported Slater’s efforts.

“These construction projects could have a negative impact on our groundwater supply, so it’s crucial for local governments to have control,” Scorrano said. “We believe that the people in our communities and those in the lower Hudson Valley watershed are in the best position to make decisions about what’s appropriate for our areas.”

The June 19 public hearing at Carmel Town Hall is set to begin at 7 p.m.




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