The town’s comprehensive plan may be updated to address future energy projects.
By Chloe Bennett
The Raquette Lake community will not be home to a battery energy storage system in the near future. The Town of Long Lake on Wednesday placed a moratorium on processing permits for such projects. The pause is set for one year with an option to extend it.
Some applications submitted during the year could be exempt, the law reads, following a public hearing.
Speakers at the town meeting voiced agreement with the proposed moratorium on the electricity-supply project before the unanimous vote. “This is new technology, we don’t know enough yet,” Monique Masse, a seasonal resident, said. “It hasn’t been in place long enough to know what will happen.”
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 has faced months of public pushback from residents concerned about potential fires and environmental effects.
The town will also review its fire and safety codes during the 12-month moratorium and is seeking consultants to help update its three-year-old comprehensive plan. Many of the concerns expressed by residents have been about fire. Some also said the area does not have enough emergency service workers to address a fire should one occur.
As it stands, the town’s comprehensive plan includes a paragraph about the proposed microgrid, stating that it should “continue to coordinate with National Grid to help facilitate the installation of such infrastructure.” Town Supervisor Clay Arsenault said the town does not know if they will change the language of that section.
The project called for 20 megawatts with 12 tractor-trailer-sized modules on about 2.4 acres in the hamlet of Raquette Lake. Contractors planned to install an underground utility line.
Jared Paventi, spokesperson for National Grid, said such systems are a critical component of decarbonization and a clean energy future.
“National Grid respects the town of Long Lake’s decision on this technology and remains committed to finding the right solution for reliability issues in Raquette Lake and surrounding communities,” he added. “Further, National Grid supports the Governor’s Inter-Agency Fire Safety Working Group and looks forward to reviewing its findings when released.”
The state’s working group was announced in late July following battery fires in other parts of the state, including the town of Lyme. The Raquette Lake microgrid would have lithium iron phosphate batteries, first researched by John Goodenough and others at the University of Texas in the 1990s.
The product is considered a safer alternative to other lithium batteries because they 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 there is still a risk of fire.
“It is difficult to put out a battery fire because water doesn’t fully put the fire out,” he said. Materials like sand or dust could be used, he said, but those are more hazardous to the environment than water.
Mike Vogt, a senior vice president of development of REV Renewables, said battery energy storage systems “are proven to be dependable, safe and effective solutions to improve reliability and integrate clean energy into the electric grid.”
“REV Renewables is committed to cooperatively serving our partners, customers and the public with reliable, clean energy,” Vogt said. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with National Grid and to helping bring the best reliability solutions for the Adirondack region.”
While energy storage is considered an essential part of renewable energy infrastructure, it must connect with a source such as solar or wind to deliver non-fossil fuel electricity. The Raquette Lake system would be connected to the power grid managed by the New York Independent System Operator. According to a real-time view of energy sources, around 27% of energy generated in the state came from renewables on the morning of Aug. 31.