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Wide support for proposed Kings Park power plant

A proposed power storage facility, like this one

A proposed power storage facility, like this one in Johnson City, would be built in Kings Park. (July 29, 2012) Credit: Handout

A Virginia company has selected a site in an industrial section of Kings Park for a proposed 400-megawatt power storage facility.

The facility, which would store surplus electricity for sale to the Long Island Power Authority, has the support of Town of Smithtown officials, community activists and environmentalists who prefer it to a conventional power plant like one proposed for a nearby site.

And as a bonus, supporters say, the storage facility would replace one of the dozens of Kings Park construction and demolition businesses that have drawn the ire of residents and town officials.

The proposal, by AES Energy Storage of Arlington, Va., is one of 45 submitted to LIPA by private energy providers. LIPA is seeking new sources to generate 2,500 megawatts of power.

"I think it's a good piece of development for that area. It's part of what we're doing in cleaning that area of Kings Park up," town Councilman Edward Wehrheim said. "I think environmentally it will be fine."

The 119,505-square-foot AES plant would house racks with thousands of lithium-ion batteries, similar to those used in hybrid vehicles, according to documents submitted by AES to the Smithtown Planning Department. The batteries store excess electricity from the LIPA grid generated during off-peak hours for resale to LIPA during times of increased power usage. Proponents say the technology supplies as much power as a conventional plant, but with virtually zero emissions.

If approved by LIPA and Smithtown officials, the facility would be built on a 6.67-acre parcel zoned for heavy industry at 133 Old Northport Rd., currently Fasco Asphalt Paving. The company could not be reached for comment, and it was not clear how AES intends to acquire rights to the site.

Wehrheim said he did not know when the town board, acting in its capacity as the board of site plan review, would vote on the plan.

A LIPA spokesman confirmed the AES application but declined to comment further. Brian Perusse, an AES official involved in the project, did not return calls seeking comment.

In a letter to town planners, David Buttacavoli, a Hauppauge engineer hired by AES for the project, said the facility "will serve as a model for clean energy projects in Smithtown, on Long Island and across the United States."

Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said power storage plants such as the one proposed by AES are "really an important part of our energy net . . . It's way preferable to conventional energy plants."

The AES site is about a mile east of another Kings Park property eyed by a Maryland firm that has proposed building a conventional 400-megawatt plant that also would supply power to LIPA. That plant faces opposition from nearby residents.

But Mark Seratoff, who opposes the power plant, said he supports the AES proposal because it would "take square footage away from obnoxious uses," such as demolition, composting and landfill businesses.

"It will have no emissions, no pollution, no truck traffic," said Seratoff, executive board member of the Townline Association civic group. "To me, it's a home run."

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