Southampton approved a moratorium extension on battery energy storage systems that...

Southampton approved a moratorium extension on battery energy storage systems that freezes a pending application for a proposed facility, shown on the map. Credit: Town of Southampton

Southampton Town has extended a moratorium on battery energy storage systems by six months while also hiring a consultant to assist in developing code revisions.

The town board approved the initial six-month moratorium in August to give board members time to review town code adopted in 2021 that they said may be inadequate amid growing safety concerns.

The extension, approved in a 5-0 vote Feb. 15, continues to freeze a pending application for a facility in Hampton Bays that drew fierce backlash from residents due to its proximity to homes. Residents also feared an emergency at the site, sandwiched between Sunrise Highway and Long Island Rail Road tracks to the south, could cut off access to the East End.

Supervisor Maria Moore said the code revisions will aim to limit the size of facilities and address safety concerns. The town board unanimously approved a resolution to hire the consultant firm VHB Inc. at a cost up to $49,000 for one year.

The storage batteries complement renewable energy sources such as wind and solar by storing power generated for future use.

Several municipalities across Long Island have begun similar reviews of how to regulate the facilities.

Southold and Huntington have instituted moratoriums of 12 and six months, respectively, and Babylon Town board members are expected to vote on a six-month moratorium this month. The Sachem Central School District filed suit this month to challenge a 10-megawatt battery plant on Morris Avenue in Holtsville, Newsday reported this week.

Janice Scherer, Southampton's planning and development administrator, said the town's public safety department, fire marshal and building inspector have been involved in internal discussions since the initial moratorium took effect. The town also reached out to other municipalities and sought input from PSEG Long Island and LIPA.

David Wortman, a senior environmental manager at VHB in Hauppauge, told the town board on Feb. 8 the firm would work to provide the town “appropriate recommendations" and the board will ultimately decide how to proceed.

At a public hearing Feb. 15 prior to the board’s vote, several residents supported the extension.

Hampton Bays resident Gail Murcott, 72, urged the board to go beyond a moratorium to outright ban the facilities.

“It’s just not a good idea,” she said.

Canal Southampton Battery Storage LLC has proposed a 100-megawatt facility on a 4.9-acre site near a Long Island Power Authority substation. 

Attorney Keith Archer, who represents the Canal applicant, pointed to a recent state report that found “no harmful toxins” were found at the sites of fires at three lithium-battery facilities, including East Hampton.

Activists on Long Island, however, have said the report may raise more questions than it answers, Newsday previously reported.

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