Canton town board extends moratorium on large solar energy batteries
BY ADAM ATKINSON
North Country This Week
CANTON -- The Canton town board has extended its moratorium on construction of energy storage systems like those used in commercial solar facilities. The stall will be in place until March 31, 2021.
The board passed its original moratorium on battery storage facilities earlier this year and that measure ends Sept. 30. The move followed concerns over the town's lack of zoning and code rules governing large energy battery banks like those proposed in solar farm projects such as the EDF Renewables project. That company seeks to construct at 3.5-square-mile solar farm in the town. Part of that project could include a 30-megawatt energy storage system.Such battery systems can be the size of shipping containers.
At a town board meeting earlier this year when the first moratorium was passed, concerns were raised during discussion of an explosion of such a system in Arizona in 2019. The incident was widely covered by the media at the time. According to reports, fires and fumes of battery chemicals inside one of the large lithium ion battery units there resulted in injuries for fire fighters, and the heat from the blaze took several weeks to cool before the battery materials could be removed.
Several other companies are planning construction of commercial solar operations in St. Lawrence County leading other municipalities, including neighboring Potsdam, to institute similar moratoriums while they get their code up to speed on the batteries.
Canton's extension of their moratorium followed a public hearing at their meeting Thursday, Sept. 10. No members of the public voiced any comments on the move. The town board subsequently passed a local law extending the moratorium until next year.
The moratorium set by the town board does not apply to stand-alone household batteries, 12-volt car batteries or electric motor vehicles. It also does not apply “to energy storage systems located on or within any legally permitted building or structure for the purpose of storing electricity primarily for onsite consumption.”
Once the town files the local law with the Department of State the new moratorium will take effect.
The board plans to develop "comprehensive regulations" before the moratorium lapses next spring.