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Opposition to battery energy storage system grows fiercer in Littleton

Opposition to the proposed industrial-scale lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) at the dead end of Foster Hill Road has grown fiercer. On Tuesday, the roughly 100 residents turning out to the Littleton Opera House put both the applicant and the Zoning Board of Adjustment on the hot seat during a public hearing that was again continued, until March 24. ...The system would store electrical energy using specialized battery store containers and would go on 13 of the 27 wooded acres owned by Aaron Scott DeAngelis, who would lease the site to LITUS. The utility-scale batteries, in 96 containers, each 40-feet-long and 8-feet-wide and spaced 15 feet apart, would be charged at night at a lower price, temporarily stored, and sold back to the electric grid as needed at higher price.

ZBA Split On Enlisting Expert Consultant, Continues Hearing Until March 24

LITTLETON — Opposition to the proposed industrial-scale lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) at the dead end of Foster Hill Road has grown fiercer. On Tuesday, the roughly 100 residents turning out to the Littleton Opera House put both the applicant and the Zoning Board of Adjustment on the hot seat during a public hearing that was again continued, until March 24. Most of those living along Foster Hill Road appeared and the majority of all residents speaking voiced concerns about safety and the possibility of an explosion or a fire that could leave some residents trapped with no way out.

They also charged the applicant, the Massachusetts-based Enel Green Power North America, with not being able to answer life-safety, public health risk, and other questions about the facility, the large size of which would be a first for the company, not only in New Hampshire but on the continent. None spoke in favor. “How many of these battery storage systems do you have in the United States?” asked Foster Hill Road resident... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

ZBA Split On Enlisting Expert Consultant, Continues Hearing Until March 24 

LITTLETON — Opposition to the proposed industrial-scale lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) at the dead end of Foster Hill Road has grown fiercer. On Tuesday, the roughly 100 residents turning out to the Littleton Opera House put both the applicant and the Zoning Board of Adjustment on the hot seat during a public hearing that was again continued, until March 24. Most of those living along Foster Hill Road appeared and the majority of all residents speaking voiced concerns about safety and the possibility of an explosion or a fire that could leave some residents trapped with no way out.

They also charged the applicant, the Massachusetts-based Enel Green Power North America, with not being able to answer life-safety, public health risk, and other questions about the facility, the large size of which would be a first for the company, not only in New Hampshire but on the continent. None spoke in favor. “How many of these battery storage systems do you have in the United States?” asked Foster Hill Road resident Deb Cobb. “These particular batteries, the number is zero in North America,” said James George, permitting specialist for Enel, which seeks a variance from the ZBA to build in a rural zone at 370 Foster Hill Road.

What makes the Littleton site attractive is its proximity to the Eversource Energy transfer station and that station’s interconnection, he said. “And with no regard you’re putting potential lives in harm’s way by a dead-end road, anybody beyond that, and you can’t give us a 100-percent guarantee there will never be a problem?” asked Cobb, who added the proposal shouldn’t even be considered. Toward the end of a nearly three-hour hearing that saw outbursts by residents wanting the board to vote down the variance request, Jessica Daine, chair of the ZBA, made a motion to allow the board to enlist an expert consultant, paid for by the applicant, to gather the information, such as safety questions and impacts to property values the board needs to help it make a decision.

That motion, though, while supported by ZBA member David Rochefort who said Littleton Fire Rescue Chief Joe Mercieri has already recommended an expert, was defeated 3-2. ZBA members Ralph Hodgman and Jerry LeSage said the board already has enough information to take a vote and should listen to residents, and board member James McMahon said it would open a door to an ongoing conversation with experts on both sides possibly contesting each other’s information. The unmanned facility that would be monitored remotely from Andover, Mass. is being proposed by LITUS Energy Storage LLC, a subsidiary of Enel set up specifically for the Littleton project. It would be a $30 to $50 million investment depending if it is 100 megawatts or down-sized to 50 megawatts.

The system would store electrical energy using specialized battery store containers and would go on 13 of the 27 wooded acres owned by Aaron Scott DeAngelis, who would lease the site to LITUS. The utility-scale batteries, in 96 containers, each 40-feet-long and 8-feet-wide and spaced 15 feet apart, would be charged at night at a lower price, temporarily stored, and sold back to the electric grid as needed at higher price. The system also entails 48 transformers and inverters and would connect to the nearby Eversource substation. Each container has a fire-suppression unit, and fire protection involves a 24-hour monitoring system to monitor.

Residents Put Heat On Enel

There are five criteria for a variance that must be met, among them: is it contrary to the public interest, will it diminish surrounding property values, and does denying it create an unnecessary hardship, said former ZBA member Schuyler Sweet. As for the public interest, the power would not be for residents of Littleton and maybe not even in New Hampshire, said Sweet, who said he believes the BESS does not meet any of the five criteria and no one knows much about the new technology. “It does not belong in a rural zone,” he said. “It’s industrial.” The process of developing a BESS in Littleton will be long and also involves state approvals, said George. “It will be four or five years before we ever build this thing,” he said. “So a lot of the technical questions you have about safety and fire and monitoring and how this is going to be responded to, we seek experts to retain on our dime … to answer these questions.” He asked for their patience.

Most residents were not assured.

“I think your company is way ahead of itself,” said Bud Foster. “You should have a lot more of this data before you even ask these people to even consider this.” Citing safety was Foster Hill resident George Morgan, who said he has 34 years in the utility business as an electrical engineer working with protection systems and analyzing failures of all kinds. “Regarding controls, I am sure that their equipment is going to be the best that money can buy,” said Morgan. “Nobody makes an investment like they’re planning without doing their due diligence and having good equipment and a great amount of confidence it will not fail. That being said, everything can fail. The one issue that faces us on Foster Hill Road is a catastrophic event. They cannot guarantee, nor can anyone guarantee, that it won’t occur … No matter what kind of controls you put in for protection, it can fail. The argument is we have to be prepared to deal with a catastrophic event,” said Morgan. “If we can’t, then this project should not go forward. Life and property are of the utmost concern.”

Enel Puts Heat On Fire Chief

At the first hearing session on Dec. 10, Mercieri presented photographs of what he said were firefighters battling a lithium-ion battery facility fire in Surprise, Ariz. Early Duval, attorney for the applicant, said Enel’s primary point of discussion on Tuesday was to highlight what he said were inaccurate photographs Mercieri presented at the December hearing, none of which he said were from the Arizona fire. After Tuesday’s hearing, Mercieri said he obtained the photographs from a web site documenting the L-I battery fires and said he stands by his conclusion that the facilities can be dangerous.

Several residents spoke in defense of Mercieri and thanked him for his focus on public safety.

In a letter submitted to the ZBA on Tuesday asking the board to enlist an expert, Mercieri and Littleton Zoning Officer Milton Bratz wrote that given how well-documented battery storage system accidents are they are concerned that a BESS in Littleton might pose a significant public health risk and public safety hazard to not only the residents of Foster Hill Road but to the larger community as well. Currently, neither the state nor the town has adopted National Fire Protection Association 855, the standard for the installation of BESSs, and the lack of an enforceable code combined with technicalities and potential hazards make it a serious concern, they said. And neither town officials nor ZBA members have the technical expertise to navigate the review process, wrote Mercieri and Bratz.

Citing a review of a Worcester Polytechnic Institute study, they said that once an L-I battery ignites, other cells have the potential to overheat and initiate “thermal runway” reactions between adjacent batteries, making a hazard. “To date, the applicants have not provided a comprehensive fire safety and emergency response plan to any of our town officials,” they wrote.

Enel Speaks

On Wednesday afternoon, Enel provided a statement on the Littleton project, saying the company’s first priority is ensuring the safety of communities, and its workers work closely with local officials and fire departments to meet safety requirements on its projects. “At last night’s hearing we requested that the Zoning Board of Adjustment retain a third-party expert of its choosing to review the LITUS energy storage project and any fire safety concerns and we are disappointed that the board voted against allowing for additional education on this topic,” said spokesperson AJ Gosselin. Failures of battery storage systems are very rare and Enel conducts its own safety tests with local authorities and develops an emergency response plan before putting a system into operation, said Gosselin. The LITUS project was not presented to any other municipality beforehand, said Gosselin. “In choosing the Littleton site among several options screened, Enel evaluated a number of factors including available land and proximity to transmission infrastructure,” said Gosselin.


Source: https://www.caledonianrecor...

JAN 16 2020
http://www.windaction.org/posts/50802-opposition-to-battery-energy-storage-system-grows-fiercer-in-littleton
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