Littleton Zoning Board Continues Hearing On Proposed Battery Storage Project | New Hampshire Public Radio

Littleton Zoning Board Continues Hearing On Proposed Battery Storage Project

Jan 13, 2020

A draft of the proposed battery energy storage system in Littleton.
Credit Enel Green Power North America

The Littleton Zoning Board will continue to hear from residents at a hearing Tuesday about a proposed battery storage project.

Battery energy storage systems use rechargeable lithium ion batteries to store electricity from the grid when prices are low.

Then, during peak hours, that electricity is released, bringing down prices and forestalling the use of fossil fuels.

The proposal Littleton is considering comes from Massachusetts-based company  LITUS Energy Storage, which is owned by an Italian energy firm. It would spend $30 to $50 million to build a battery storage facility over about 13 acres in a rural zone in Littleton.

Since Littleton doesn’t have a zoning ordinance that defines a battery energy storage system and such a system isn't listed in the permitted uses or uses permitted by special exception, the company’s building permit was denied, and it’s now seeking a variance from the town.

The project received pushback at a public hearing last month from neighbors and the fire chief. Joanna Ray, the town’s planning and zoning administrator says concerns ranged from how the project would look to its safety. 

“There were a lot of concerns about hazards, odors from a potential fire, or how the fire department will put out a fire,” she said.

Jessica Daine is the chair of the zoning board. She says the board needs to consider how property values would be affected, public safety, and if the project is in the public interest.

"I don't imagine at this meeting we'll be voting to disapprove or approve the application. It's going to be more a fact finding mission,” she said.

The board does plan to vote on whether or not to hire an expert to review the application and present their findings at a later date. The project applicant would pay for the consultant. 

“This won’t be rushed into. Everything is going to be looked at, all the concerns,” said Ray. “It’s definitely not something to rush.”

There's only one other such system in the works in New Hampshire - a pilot project from Eversource in Westmoreland, with a price tag of about $7 million.

The hearing starts at 6 p.m. at the Littleton Opera House.