Enniskillen to consider support for battery storage project Monday

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Blake Ellis/Local Journalism Initiative

“They paint such a pretty picture,” said Enniskillen Councillor Mary Lynne McCallum.

But the councillor is still asking questions about a battery storage proposal in Enniskillen is a good idea.

McCallum has been searching for more information about the energy storage projects being proposed near Oil City while she attended the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA) conference from Jan. 22 to 24.

Renewable Energy Systems – a UK based company – is applying for a 250 megawatt battery storage operation just 700 meters east of Oil City on Gyspy Flats Road. It’s one of four projects in Lambton bidding for the lucrative contracts from the Independent Electric System Operator. Those bids need to be submitted by Feb. 16 and RES is looking for a letter of support from Enniskillen.

But McCallum wanted to find out more about battery storage operations and what the impact would be on the municipality.

The Enniskillen councillor says she could not find any projects as large as the Oil City proposal in Ontario. There are two energy storage projects which were built in Ontario in the last five years – one in Newmarket and one in Stratford.
US-based Ameresco won contracts for two, small units generating two megawatts of power each. The $14.6 million project went online in September 2019.

There is also facility in Stratford which went online December 2018. It generates almost nine megawatts of power and cost $25 million to build in the Stratford Industrial Park.

McCallum still has questions about the proposal in Enniskillen.
“These battery storage facilities are being touted as the wave of the future,” said McCallum. She and other members of Enniskillen Council questioned Philippe Abergel, senior development manager of RES Jan. 16 about the proposed storage site and put off a letter of support until the township’s Feb. 6 meeting.

After an article in The Independent about the three proposed 200 megawatt energy storage projects by Enbridge Gas in St. Clair Township, east of Corunna, McCallum said heard from concerned residents about the project near Oil City.
The proposed Enbridge Gas facilities are to be built close to natural gas pipelines, while the Oil City facility is to be constructed on farmland, so it is not the same situation, said McCallum.

St. Clair Township has already given a letter of support the Enbridge projects, prompting angry letters from some St. Clair residents who noted councillors gave the approval even as they suggested the sites near pipelines not be a good idea.

McCallum spoke with representatives from the IESO while at ROMA. It’s the body which will decide which energy storage facilities will be constructed. That decision is expected in March.

McCallum says officials at the conference explained the proposals for energy storage are requiring municipalities give letters of support, said McCallum. Without it, the proposals will not go on to the next stage.

She said IESO could also decide to downsize projects during its approval process. Even though RES Group is proposing a 250 megawatt facility, it could be a much smaller project.

RES – the world’s largest independent renewable energy company – has developed more than 20 battery energy storage projects with a combined capacity of 500 megawatts.

The Enniskillen project is to be on a 30 acre parcel on the back portion of a farm on Courtright Line, along the Hydro One transmission line.

RES is offering a community fund contributing $500,000 the first year and $125,000 for the rest of the 22 years the facility is in use – $3.25 million over the course of the agreement – if Enniskillen gives a letter of support.

McCallum is still concern about the noise the facility will produce. The site will have fans to cool the batteries when the temperatures reach 22 C. The sound is to be no louder than 40 decibels, according to Ontario regulations.