The Town of Ulster will serve as lead agency for the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center, a project proposed and sponsored by Chicago-based GlidePath Power to support the electric grid in the local and regional area with a combined lithium battery and natural gas generated system.
During a meeting of the Ulster Town Board on Thursday, Nov. 16, councilmen voted 3-0 in favor of the motion. Councilmen Eric Kitchen and Joel Brink were not in attendance
According to Peter Rood, chief development officer with GlidePath, the entire infrastructure for the project would take up around three acres of a 100-acre property at the intersections of Frank Sottile Boulevard and Miron Lane, with a building housing the equipment planned for between 30-40 feet in height. An exhaust stack would rise above the structure, though developers are determined to keep that below the 100-foot height limit for the area.
“We chose this site because it has existing electrical infrastructure on the site, as well as existing natural gas transmission, which allows us to connect to those two services without having to build significant new linear facilities to the site,” said Rood. “The site has the space for us to put the project without having significant impact on wetlands or endangered species or other sorts of environmental concerns.”
While the SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process could confirm that, some local residents are already unconvinced. KingstonCitizens.org, the community group which was among those protesting the ultimately withdrawn Niagara Bottling plan, expressed concern in a Facebook post over the town board’s taking lead agency status. “This presents a multitude of potentially serious problems for our area and requires swift action,” the post read.
Also on Facebook, the group shared concerns about stormwater runoff from the project that would be directed to an on-site wetland, as well as the property’s close proximity to residential properties.
“Right down the road from my home!” wrote Tim Hurley in the post’s comments.“This has to stop!”
Another comment came from Susan Hereth, who linked to a story about a solar energy plant built by Tesla on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. “Solar or wind is the way to go for future energy needs,” wrote Hereth. “Ulster could be an innovation leader!”
But while town officials are grappling with the prevalence of proposed solar projects, the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center would not be one of them.
“The primary project component will be a natural gas generator, most likely two 10-megawatt generator sets that will burn natural gas to generate electricity,” said Rood. “The site will also be capable of burning alternative fuels, most likely low-sulphur diesel fuel — stored in an above-ground tank — which would allow the site to operate in the event the natural gas supply is disrupted. We expect, obviously, to comply with all state laws on the above-ground tanks.”
Rood added that the lithium ion batteries used at the facility would be similar to those in mobile phones and laptop computers, though would be used in greater numbers.
“Those would be in shipping containers and self-contained systems that will be able to provide initial power response prior to turning the generators on,” Rood said. “That will allow us to reduce the use of the generators and use them more efficiently when we need to.”
Rood added that the developers were aware of the relative close proximity of residential properties to the proposed project, and in addition to the screening from trees in the area, the facility itself would be built in an effort to maximize quiet.
“As you can imagine, the equipment does make noise,” Rood said. “It’s one of the reasons that it’s inside of a building. We’re working with the manufacturers, but we don’t expect to have any noise emissions outside of the property that would be a nuisance to any of the neighbors. [And] we don’t plan any further development to that property.”
Rood said the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center would provide numerous day-to-day services, along with emergency services to support the local and regional electric grid and ensure reliable and low-cost energy to consumers.
“The primary tasks that will be the product of the project cells are peaking power, renewables integration … as well as power quality items to make sure that the power that’s delivered to local residents and the community is as expected, and provide those services to the grid,” Rood said. “It also can provide emergency services in the event of an outage or some other sort of long term or short term disruption in the power supply.”
Rood said the facility would not lead to an increase of traffic along local roads, with no more than four employees needed at the plant at any given time.
The next meeting of the Ulster Town Board is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 7.