The company behind a proposed 20-megawatt hybrid energy system in Ulster County, New York, has revised its plans, ditching the fossil fuel portion. Area residents, who spoke out in opposition to the original plan, welcome the change.
GlidePath Power Solutions delivered a presentation to the Town of Ulster Board Thursday night for a revised energy project, one that would use a utility-scale battery system only to support the electrical grid. The revised plan for the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center eliminates the natural gas and diesel elements, and the exhaust stack and noise along with it. Also put to rest is the controversy that accompanied the initial proposal. Peter Rood is chief development officer of Illinois-based GlidePath.
“We heard loud and clear last year that it was important to the community to see these changes,” Rood says. “And I think what happened was the community’s desire for the project, the declining cost of battery systems and the changes and advancements in state policy kind of all align now whereas a year ago it wasn’t clear if they would align, and that’s why we weren’t able to pose it then.”
He says a battery-only project was not financially feasible prior to the declining cost coupled with the state’s clean energy goals and new policies to encourage adoption of battery storage within the electric grid. Town of Ulster Supervisor James Quigley:
“I’m extremely happy that the community has had their opportunity to make their inputs heard, the developer has been responsive, and we have produced a cutting-edge energy project of the state of New York in conformance with Governor Cuomo’s goals,” says Quigley.
Laura Hartmann formed TownofUlsterCitizens.org in 2018 in opposition to GlidePath’s initial proposal.
“Here’s the revision and, wow, we couldn’t be more excited. It’s more than what we thought we would get,” Hartmann says. “This was our dream. This was an alternative suggestion we had made. We didn’t think it got any traction and here we are, so we couldn’t be happier with it.”
GlidePath’s Rood further describes the project.
“So the project is a 20 megawatt of generating capacity, or 20 megawatt of capacity, with 80 megawatt hours of storage duration,” says Rood. “So that means that if it operates at full power, at full 20 megawatts, if it’s fully charged, it can output for four hours before it runs out of charge. And, just like your phone and other things, if you don’t run it at full power, you can run it for longer.”
And he lays out what is next.
“We’ll reach out to folks. We’re hoping that people contact us with questions so that we can either answer those questions or address them in future presentations. Pull all that together and then work through the rest of the process with the Town of Ulster,” says Rood. “There is only one major permit — the site plan review approval.”
He says tree clearing would begin in the fall with shovels in the ground by year’s end. The goal is to be up and running by the summer of 2020. The new plan reduces the project’s footprint from nearly six acres to just under two. Quigley says it also relocates the project from the southwest side of Frank Sottile Boulevard to the northeast side, increasing the setback from residences.
“It is less impactful on a construction basis but it’s more impactful because it preserves 109 acres of forest behind the residents’ houses that will be forever green,” Quigley says.
“This is huge, huge and exciting news,” says Metzger.
That’s Democrat Jen Metzger, who, before being elected to the state Senate, served as director of Citizens for Local Power, a group that was fighting to stop the fossil fuel component of the project.
“Ultimately, I think, at the state level, we have to be doing a lot more to accelerate this shift to a clean energy economy so that our communities aren’t having to constantly fight these fights, these battles to stop proposed fossil fuel projects in their communities,” Metzger says.
GlidePath is scheduled to deliver a presentation to the Town Planning Board Tuesday. It’s GlidePath’s first foray into New York.