A battery energy storage system is on pause after backlash
By Chloe Bennett
A months-long clash between Raquette Lake residents and developers of a battery energy storage paused in August.
The Adirondack Central Microgrid, which would store energy to use during power outages in Raquette Lake and the surrounding area, is a partnership between National Grid and REV Renewables. The project faced months of public pushback from residents concerned about potential fires and environmental effects.
The proposed battery storage facility would include 12 tractor-trailer-sized modules on about 2.4 acres on Antlers Road in the hamlet of Raquette Lake. The estimated cost of the project would be around $50 million.
Many full-time and seasonal residents disapproved of the project, leading the town of Long Lake, in which Raquette Lake is located, to impose a moratorium on processing permits for such projects. The pause will expire in August 2024, though the board members may vote to extend it.
The proposed developers and some research suggest the battery technology is safer than previous systems that caught fire. Lithium iron phosphate batteries are unlikely to overheat, Neal Abrams, associate professor of chemistry and renewable energy at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, said. But the risk of fire still stands.
The microgrid project was the outcome of a 2019 call for proposals looking to address regular power outages in the area. According to National Grid, the facility is a less costly and complicated alternative to traditional solutions such as building new supply lines.
In July, the state convened a group to investigate other battery storage fires, including ones in Jefferson, Orange and Suffolk Counties. Results and recommendations are expected in 2024.
The Adirondack Park Agency is also moving on the issue. An application system for such projects was in development in November, according to Explorer policy reporter Gwen Craig. Fire and safety concerns would be addressed in the application for battery system proposals that fall under the agency’s jurisdiction.