Pictured is Oyster Bay Town Hall, where legislators recently held...

Pictured is Oyster Bay Town Hall, where legislators recently held a public hearing on a proposal for a six-month moratorium on battery energy storage system facilities. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

The Oyster Bay Town Board held a public hearing Tuesday on a proposal for a six-month moratorium on battery energy storage system sites.

Bayport-based Bay Environmental made the recommendation after Oyster Bay officials asked the firm to review town code and other concerns about the facilities, company representative Andrew Thyberg said at the hearing.

The recommendation includes an option for two six-month extensions. 

Thyberg told board members such lithium-ion battery facilities are “generally safe,” but the technology carries “potential risks” and additional investigation and further review of possible sites is warranted. 

Right now there are no battery energy storage system sites in Oyster Bay, according to town spokesman Brian Nevin.

He said the town is reviewing an application for a project known as Oyster Shore Energy Storage, proposed for the hamlet of Glenwood Landing in December 2022. Town officials provided preliminary feedback on the application, which isn't before any town boards yet, according to Nevin.

The moratorium would put a hold on all licenses, building permits or any other approvals regarding battery energy storage system facilities, including the Glenwood Landing proposal.

Thyberg said the moratorium proposal grew from environmental concerns after fires last year at three such sites in the state, including one in East Hampton in July.

A state working group soon may outline changes to the state’s fire code, said Thyberg, who suggested the town wait for that information to be finalized before moving forward with new projects. 

Battery energy storage systems hold energy generated during off-peak hours that can be used later. If the batteries overheat, however, they can combust and create fires that are difficult to extinguish using conventional methods. 

The towns of Southampton, Southold and Huntington have moratoriums in place, and Babylon is considering a six-month moratorium. Dozens of the energy facilities have been proposed for communities from Glen Head and Island Park to the Hamptons and the North Fork, Newsday previously reported.

Lisa Cashman, associate director of the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor, voiced support for the proposed Oyster Bay moratorium at Tuesday's hearing, citing environmental concerns related to fires at such facilities elsewhere.

But Grant Newburger, a spokesman for the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, said the sites are needed to meet energy demands and help keep his union's members working.

Town board members left public comment open for 30 days and haven't scheduled a vote.

With Denise M. Bonilla

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