ROTTERDAM — Less than six months after adopting a moratorium on large-scale solar arrays, lawmakers may adopt similar ordinances temporarily blocking the construction of battery storage and wind energy systems in town.
The town’s Energy Advisory Committee recently recommended the moratoriums in order to provide time to update existing town code regulating the energy systems. Currently, the town does not have any regulations pertaining to battery energy storage systems, and its laws pertaining to wind energy date back to 2008.
Supervisor Mollie Collins said on Friday that it’s possible the town adopts the moratoriums, but noted a decision has yet to be made as officials continue to research if the action is needed or if lawmakers can simply adopt state-recommended regulations for the systems.
“I don’t know if we’ll do a moratorium or not, but we definitely have to update our code,” she said. “The technology is changing quickly and we just don’t have it in our code to protect our residents.”
Lawmakers, she added, will take the topic up next month.
The recommendation from the committee — appointed earlier this year to help draft new solar energy regulations — comes as a Massachusetts-based solar company is seeking Planning Commission approval to construct a 5-megawatt battery storage system at 635 Mariaville Road.
Poentic Kill, LLC, a subsidiary of BlueWave Solar of Boston, Massachusetts, is seeking to construct the zinc battery storage system on a 2.2-acre plot of land that borders Burdeck Street. The company has appeared twice before the Planning Commission, but no action has been taken on the project.
A representative from BlueWave told Town Board members earlier this month that the company is willing to work with the town to have the project approved and would be willing to follow state-recommended regulations for battery energy storage systems since the town does not have any regulations in place.
But Kimberly Scannell, a member of the Energy Advisory Committee, has pressed Town Board members to adopt a moratorium on the systems so regulations can be drafted that would better fit Rotterdam, which is made up of more urban neighborhoods in eastern portions of town, and more rural landscapes towards the west.
“I do have great concern that we are ill-equipped to make the necessary decisions that we need regarding the permitting, inspection and decommissioning processes for battery energy storage systems because we don’t have any code for that here in our town,” she said.
Scannell also raised concerns about wind energy systems, noting the town’s current laws are outdated, and that the clean-energy sector has developed rapidly in recent years. No wind energy projects have yet to be proposed in town, but Scannell said it was only a matter of time, noting that GE Vernova recently announced it would be investing $50 million to install an onshore wind turbine manufacturing facility in Schenectady.
“While I think that’s great for GE, I think that’s great for Schenectady, it also means we better get ready because wind turbines are coming to our town,” she said.
Last year, the Town Board adopted a 12-month moratorium on the construction of large-scale solar arrays after residents expressed concerns about the construction of a 20-megawatt solar array in the area of Sandborn Road.
The moratorium was approved the same night lawmakers approved an updated comprehensive plan that establishes a roadmap for future development, and calls for preserving natural habitats in town.
Collins said that any moratorium temporarily blocking the energy producing or storage systems is not a sign that lawmakers are against green energy, but is an effort to ensure that the town is keeping up with the rapidly changing industry.
“I don’t want anyone to construe that we’re against green energy,” she said. “It’s just a matter, because the technology is so new, that the Rotterdam residents are protected in a financial way and also in a safety way.”
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.