St Clair group wants battery storage facts

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Enbridge hoped to build three battery storage areas in St. Clair Township. The batteries would generate power to return to the grid. It's now planning a smaller site at its Dawn-Euphemia storage site.

A new group wants the province and municipalities to look at a better way to deal with setting up battery storage facilities.

Marilyn Robbins speaks for a group of about 70 St. Clair Township residents who were frustrated by the township’s endorsement of three projects by Enbridge Gas on Petrolia Line, Tecumseh Road and Lady Smith Line.

The Independent Energy System Operator is in the middle of a call for proposals for electricity storage units which use lithium ion batteries to store energy during low use times and feed it back into the system during peak needs.

Enbridge came to St. Clair Township in December asking for a letter of endorsement for the three projects its proposing which will each generate enough energy to power about 33,000 homes.

Council gave its approval in principle and at the next meeting faced criticism from citizens who voiced concern the projects will be built on top of natural gas pipelines.

Robbins is one of the people concerned. “I only got involved because my 80 year-old parents, their bedroom window they slept under every night for 60 years is 225 meters from one of these installations.”

Robbins says council simply rubber stamped the projects without getting any added information.

“We would like to hear from some independent expertise around citing these (storage facilities.) Enbridge would tell you that their information would say it’s safe. I think I’d feel better hearing that from someone else. I think I’d also like to hear from an independent fire expert.”

That’s what Chatham-Kent did before giving its okay for four projects there.

“Enbridge is keen to build these things for the province. And because of the rushed deadline, they went first to property they already own, which would be cheaper and easier,” she says.

Robbins says the group isn’t sure it can make an impact on whether the Enbridge project moves ahead – the IESO decides in March – but she’d like to see some rules set out by the province for consultation.

“It would be better to get some steps in place for how they’re going to handle these going forward? Where do we want them? Why do we want them? And how much do we expect to be paid for it?”