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Fuel cell plant planned at United Riverhead Terminal in Northville

A 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant is being proposed for a portion of the United Riverhead Terminal in Northville.

The fuel cell installation would “be used to generate clean, baseload electricity which will be used by PSEG-LI to feed the local electricity grid and by United Riverhead Terminal to utilize heat produced by the fuel cell to augment URT’s tank hearing system,” the application states.

The project needs a special permit from the Riverhead Town Board before it can move forward, since it’s considered an extension of a non-conforming use.

The 286-acre tank farm at Northville was built in 1955, before the advent of zoning. The proposed use is not permitted under the property’s current zoning, which calls for minimum two-acre residential lots.

While the fuel cell installation would sit on property owned by URT, it would be owned by a company called Fuel Cell Energy, based in Danby, Conn. Only about one acre is needed for the plant.

Last fall, Fuel Cell Energy made a presentation to the Northville Beach Civic Association.

At that time, both the civic association and the Riverhead Neighborhood Preservation Coalition came out in opposition to the commercial use.

“Fuel cells are a great technology,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said in an interview last week. “I think it makes sense in a lot of applications. But we’ll hold a public hearing and let the residents speak.”

The town has tried unsuccessfully to attract fuel cell installations to the Enterprise Park at Calverton, Mr. Walter said.

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