Town adopts laws related to installation of Raquette Lake microgrid facility
By Chloe Bennett and Gwendolyn Craig
A hamlet in the Adirondack Park is one step closer to hosting a 20-megawatt battery storage facility. After a public hearing with community members Thursday night, the Long Lake Town Board passed two local laws related to the installation of a microgrid in Raquette Lake.
The first local law passed was designed to give the town authority over the permitting process once an application for the project is submitted, Town Supervisor Clay Arsenault said. The law establishes a plan to review the details of the project including its location, operation, decommission and environmental impact. The second law passed allows the town to opt out of a property tax exemption related to the facility and is set to be filed with the state, rendering it effective.
The proposed battery storage facility would include 12 tractor-trailer-sized modules on about 2.4 acres on Antler’s Road in the hamlet of Raquette Lake. Contractors also plan to install an underground utility line from Antler’s Road to State Route 28. One parcel of land that would host the project was sold by Dean Pohl, a town board member who was not present during Thursday’s meeting.
About 27 people attended the town board meeting, not including the board members.
Kathleen Gardiner, who lives part-time in Raquette Lake, attended the meeting because of her personal tie to the area. “I’ve been coming out to Raquette Lake since I was 19 and my dad came up in the 1940s, so I feel like I have a heart and soul connection to it,” she said.
Gardiner said she is concerned about the safety of the microgrid after researching battery storage accidents such as Tesla’s fire in Australia in 2021, caused by a coolant leak. Should a battery fire occur in the Adirondacks, Gardiner said, it could disrupt the natural environment.
“What is that going to do to the wildlife and the environmental resources?” Gardiner, 52, asked.
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The batteries in the Raquette Lake project would be made of lithium iron phosphate, which is said to have a longer lifespan than lithium ion batteries. It is unclear if the product’s lifespan impacts the risk of combustion.
Rev Renewables, a subsidiary of LS Power, would own and operate the microgrid. The company currently owns four other battery storage facilities in Northern and Southern California. Raquette Lake’s location would kick power back on for residents experiencing outages and would service customers to Old Forge, Tom McCarthy, director of project development for Rev Renewables, told the Explorer.
The proposed project has been a concern since Long Lake property owners found out about Rev Renewables plans in July. Residents including Amy Walters-Clough are organizing against the facility’s installation and plan to bring a petition to an upcoming information session with Rev Renewables.
“We want to show up to the May 23 meeting with N.G. (National Grid) and Rev with hundreds if not a thousand signatures,” Walters-Clough told the Explorer. The session is at Raquette Lake Union Free School at 6 p.m.
Some residents are waiting for more information before deciding their stance on the project. Community member Jack Carney attended the meeting with the intention of having a conversation about the proposal, unaware that the project had been discussed by the town before. “I still don’t know enough,” Carney, 80, said after the public hearing. “It’s unfortunate that it’s been so divisive in the town.”
Carl Ferrentino, town attorney for Long Lake, said the battery storage could be one of several renewable energy projects in the area as the state moves forward with plans to mitigate climate change, though he expects most projects will be installed downstate.
Arsenault said there could be amendments made to the laws after consideration of public comments.
Of 26 pages of public comments the Explorer received through a Freedom of Information law request, most were in support of the law but against a battery storage facility. A few said they were in support of such a project, but asked for more information.
Peter Small, of Fabius, had a number of concerns about the battery storage law. He requested larger setbacks from vegetation, more substantial enforcement and a battery replacement schedule. Small, and several other commenters, pointed to battery explosions and fires, particularly one in Arizona from 2019.
Local Fire Chief Mark Bird wrote that there was “not enough data to assess the risk to public health and the surrounding environment.”
Some residents wondered if the battery law would impact smaller off-grid battery systems. Some Raquette Lake and Long Lake residents use solar power batteries, for example, to power their camps.
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By going zero carbon for reasons that effect the local environment is a good thing. All efforts to keep the Adirondacks as natural and pristine as was and is the intention of the park are positive policies. However these local efforts in the spirit of offsetting climate change will only distract and give a false sense of accomplishment
and actually have harmful consequences to the environment as part of the bigger picture. Why have so many communities blindly embraced this new fad of battery powered vehicles and homes before even knowing the long term effects of mining and disposing of the resources from the manufacturing and waste these batteries will cause. These are not real solutions but just bandaids on a festering wound that will only accomplish aversion to the unpleasant reality of real solutions and a big waste of money if it’s main goal is to help offset climate change.
Bear Marlow says
Again, the Adirondack Exporer does a great job of reporting Adirondack news! Please keep the news comming. Thanks.
Carlton W. Clough says
Hopefully you got it wrong. The new Town of Long Lake laws will regulate the proposed lithium battery farm from every angle and make it far more difficult to proceed. Previously there are almost no regulations, which has allowed this unwanted project to exist with no public or governmental oversight.
Raquette Lake is the wrong place for a lithium battery farm, and the entire project is a terrible mistake. This is not a green project as it does not store energy from fossil free sources such as wind turbines and solar panels. That is what battery farms are for. Instead, it is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. There will be a public hearing about this in Raquette Lake in May. At that time the public will be heard for the first time.
James Blanchard says
Expensive…….simply not a cost effective solution for what historically are well handled short lived outages. Not environmentally correct at all. Not the right town or the right type of property in a wooded area adjacent to the Village Center for the location. This is Raquette Lake, the largest natural lake in the Park and a tiny community that is a step back in time, not wishing to have what potentially could unnecessarily impact our community and environment more negatively than it should have to risk. How can anyone excuse those that would force this type of ill-advised project on this village and area. The majority of people in Raquette Lake were and are shocked to find out this was so poorly thought out and not made known to the residents with any outreach or solid information, until the news ‘got out’ that a property for this project was already purchased some time ago. No-one even had any essential answers for simple questions that the public and residents have every right to know. Only from the rise of questions, and criticisms, has the company to build/own the chemical bomb, and the power company to now plan to meet in a public forum. I am sure they will pull out all stops to convince of the safety and convenience to all the clueless consumers and amortize the hours of need into the next century to rationalize cost, which was rumored or leaked to be in the 60-80 million dollar range! Ok, we will listen……….but what was/is the rush to do this project! Get ready for what?…….a serious outage cannot be dealt with by a battery farm. How about a generator? Whoops, we are told the State will not allow it, though neighboring Towns have them…….oh they are in NYSEG territory, not National Grid!
Jack Carney says
Jack Carney, 80. No wonder he didn’t know anything. Actually, I’m Jack Carney and the fault for my being uninformed lies elsewhere. I was the only Long Lake resident at that meeting. All other members of the audience were Raquette Lakers. When I confessed my ignorance, several, pro and con the storage facility, came over and educated me. I learned a lot. I thanked them then for their genorosity, I thank them again, here.
In closing, I think I’m one of the smartest guys you’ll ever meet. You know, however, that if you told me your name, I’d forget it in 60 seconds. Unless I wrote it down.
Remember — take down your bird feeders. Stop putting bears in DEC riflesights.
Ted wright says
And a town board member sold property to the company and doesn’t show up to the meeting? That alone makes me suspicious of the project. Ethical?
Carlton W. Clough says
When is Adirondack Explorer going to follow up on this subject. I think that talking to residents might be a good suggestion for you. In no way is this a commendable “green” project.