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East Point Energy submits planning review for Virginia BESS, moratorium could impact New York project

By Matthew Biss
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Equinor-owned East Point Energy has submitted a Public Facility Review application with the Prince William Planning Commission in Virginia, US, for the construction of a standalone battery energy storage system (BESS).

A public hearing has been scheduled for 12 June, where county officials will decide whether the proposed facility is consistent with the local comprehensive plan.

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Through its Reid Energy Center, LLC subsidiary, East Point Energy is concurrently seeking a Special Use Permit (SUP) for the project which it submitted with Prince William officials back in July last year.

Reid Energy Center project details

The Reid Energy Center is a proposed 20MW/80MWh BESS facility located at 10311 Reid Lane in Nokesville, Virginia adjacent and directly south of two substations owned separately by Dominion Energy and Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC).

Interconnection to the local grid will be via NOVEC’s more westerly Vint Hill Substation which the project will charge and discharge energy from. NOVEC is a not-for-profit electricity provider which purchases power through a combination of market purchases from PJM Interconnection and other bilateral contracts.

East Point Energy expects to use lithium-ion technology for the project although the exact battery chemistry has yet to be decided.

Potential battery storage moratorium in New York town

At a recent meeting (15 May), officials on the Carmel town board in Putnam County, New York, agreed to hold a public hearing on a potential moratorium on battery storage facilities whilst the town considers changes to its zoning laws.

At the end of the meeting, several local residents thanked the board for scheduling the hearing and voiced their concerns surrounding the potential health and safety impacts with battery projects. The hearing is set to take place on 19 June 2024.

The moratorium could affect a 116MW lithium-ion standalone BESS facility being developed by East Point Energy within the local area. Plans for the Union Energy Center put the project in a wooded area within Carmel bordering the Town of Somers in Putnam County.

Interconnection to the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO)-controlled grid would be via the Union Valley – Croton Falls 115 kV transmission line owned by New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG). East Point Energy submitted a NYISO interconnection request for the facility in May 2021 (queue no. 1180). According to the NYISO interconnection queue, the facility is expected online in October 2026.

Residents first heard of the project after the developer presented initial plans to the Town of Carmel Planning Board in September 2023. East Point Energy has yet to obtain planning approval to construct the facility.

On 28 May 2024, New York State Senator for District 40 Pete Harckham announced his full support for the potential moratorium in a letter sent to Carmel Town Supervisor Michael Cazzari.

The senator said that he had heard from numerous residents and elected officials regarding the proposed Union Energy Center project. In addition to expressing his support, he said that he would be “introducing new state legislation to ensure sound siting, best standards for energy storage system safety and a guarantee all stakeholders are heard.”

Over the past year, there has been a spate of temporary moratoriums on the development of battery storage facilities across the US, including one in Jefferson County, Tennessee, issued in July 2023. The Board of Commissioners issued an instruction preventing the development of battery storage facilities across the county for six months.

Equinor’s ERCOT pipeline

Equinor announced on 10 April that it had given the green light for East Point Energy to build two battery facilities in the ERCOT region. The 10MW/20MWh Sunset Ridge BESS in Frio County and the 110MW/220MWh Citrus Flatts BESS in Cameron County are the first Texas projects for the developer since it was acquired by Equinor in 2022.

The under-construction Sunset Ridge facility is expected to come online during the second half of this year. Construction on Citrus Flatts is expected to commence this year with commercial operation scheduled for 2026.

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