The Massachusetts Energy Siting Facilities Board has approved two energy storage facilities with a combined capacity of 400 MW/800 MWh. This decision overturns previous rulings that hindered the development of these facilities. Once operational, they will fulfill 80% of the state’s 1 GWh energy storage deployment target for 2025.
The Medway facility in Medway, Mass. will be located in the Eversource utility region, and connect to an Eversource substation. Medway expects to place 140 Tesla Megapacks on the site. Megapacks use lithium iron phosphate technology. The substation associated with the project will include one 300 MVA transformer.
Previously, these two facilities were considered outside of the purview of the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, a verdict that surprisingly opened the door for further project deliberation. As of the end of June, the board granted the facilities zoning by-law exemptions, which effectively clears the path for their construction.
The facilities had maintained that they were essentially generating units offering services to Massachusetts and the broader New England ISO region. However, Save the Pine Barrens, a local environmental group, argued that since the facilities captured, stored and redistributed electricity, they couldn’t be classified as ‘generators’. Consequently, the group contended, the projects should not proceed.
Countering this argument, the board ruled that the units did indeed qualify as generating units, upholding existing precedents. It also affirmed that the units were crucial for the state to achieve its energy goals, and that the alternate site suggestions provided or the “no build” option would not serve the public interest.
The Cranberry Point facility is being developed by Plus Power of San Francisco. Per the project’s website, the facility has been under development since 2017, and was initially approved by the Town of Carver’s Planning Board and Conservation Commission in March 2019. The project is located in Carver, Mass. in Eversource territory, and it will connect to an Eversource substation, and as noted previously, will service the whole of the New England region. The developer says the project will use Tesla Megapack batteries, and lithium iron phosphate batteries.
This ruling was facilitated by then Attorney General Muara Healey, who invalidated the City of Carter’s moratoria on solar and battery projects. Healey, now serving as the state’s Governor, cited legal precedents and deemed municipal justifications insufficient. She asserted that the moratoria, which unreasonably restricted solar and storage systems without substantial proof of public interest, violated M.G.L. c. 40A, § 3. She further stated that the moratoria hindered the state’s solar energy policy and that the rationale of studying impacts was not compelling enough to uphold them.
This article was amended to change lithium ion phosphate to lithium iron phosphate.
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