Residents express support for battery storage in petition; Hearing set for Dec. 20

While Hexagon Energy’s proposed Battery Energy Storage System on Mill Road has run into some opposition from speakers at recent meetings in Riverhead Town, it has some supporters elsewhere in town.

Specifically on Mill Road, in a senior community that abuts 87 Mill Road, where battery storage is proposed. 

A group of residents from the nearby Glenwood Village Community has submitted a petition in favor of the Mill Road project to Town Hall. The petition is being sent to the Town Board, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Appeals. 

“We are residents of the Glenwood Community in Riverhead and we are writing to vote our support for Hexagon Energy’s “Riverhead Energy” proposed Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on 87 Mill Road,” the petition reads. 

By Tuesday, had reached 75 signatures, mostly from Glenwood residents, according to Adam Stanek of Hexagon, which is calling the project “Riverhead Energy.”

The BESS is adjacent to Glenwood on its southern border. 

The petition says that the project creates a “minimal community impact; is better for their health, environment and kids; creates new long-term revenue for the town; provides more stable energy; maximizes the benefit of existing solar; and provides lower cost energy. 

Brian Stark, who owns the retirement community, said there is only a small portion of his park that is contiguous to the proposed BESS.

He said the neighboring property, where the BESS is proposed, is currently a “mish-mosh of crap.”

“It seems to me that at the end of the day, everybody complains about energy costs on Long Island. The end proposal of this thing is supposed to lower energy costs for people.”

The adjoining properties, on which the BESS is planned, currently has an old barn that’s used for junk storage, a parking lot, abandoned cars and trucks and storage for a mechanic’s business. 

The BESS use is currently not mentioned at all in Riverhead Town’s zoning code, but the Town Board has scheduled a December 20 public hearing on a proposal that sets guidelines for where they can and can’t be situated. That meeting starts at 2 p.m. Some residents have complained that the meeting is scheduled in the afternoon, just five days before Christmas.

A number of speakers at recent meetings have criticized the town for potentially adding new uses before it updates the 2003 comprehensive plan. 

Councilman Tim Hubbard agreed that BESS facilities should be examined by the comprehensive plan. 

“As I’ve stated many times before, anaerobic digesters and battery energy storage systems need to be reviewed and worked on through the comprehensive plan,” he said at the Dec. 6 Town Board meeting. 

“We are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to have the comprehensive plan done, and in my mind, it’s foolish to move forward with such items that we have not much experience with. I met with the gentleman from Hexagon. And to have him tell these people … that electricity rates are going to go down, you’ll never see that. There may be some assistance on a brownout, but in terms of our electric rates going down, we’re never going to see that”.