Township to host meeting on proposed battery storage guidelines

By David Fleet
Groveland Twp.— Additional details of a proposed battery storage facility in Groveland Township were provided on Monday night during a special community meeting.
On June 3, more than 60 area residents, local and public officials attended an informational meeting at Fire Station One, 14645 Dixie Hwy., regarding the proposed 300 MW battery storage facility.
Jessica Anderson, from Dallas-based Vesper Energy responded to questions and provided additional information regarding the proposed project.
In May, Vesper purchased property from an individual for a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), a type of energy storage system that uses lithium batteries to store and distribute energy in the form of electricity at a later time. By storing energy, extra power is saved and released when demand is greater such as the evening hours. Potentially, reducing or avoiding price spikes and supply shortfalls. Without a way to store power, electricity must be used the instant it’s generated.
“This will be a stand-alone BESS project, there are no solar panels with this project,” she said.
The proposed 63 acre parcel borders I-75 on the west side with the ITC corridor overhead and near The River Church, with Springfield Township to the south. The actual area used will be about 10 to 12 acres with about five acres of batteries.
“We are very early in the process,” she said. “Vesper follows a laundry list of items during the prospecting phase of renewable energy development. A lot has to do with the environmental features on the site and the available capacity of power lines.”
The proposed property provides screening and located near high load urban areas. The construction process takes about a year and is projected to be operational in 2029, she said.
“There are a lot of unknowns right now since this is a new technology,” she said. “Just like any new technology it starts out rusty and improvements are made all the time.”
The township has been considered for a BESS due to the location of the ITC high-voltage transmission lines over the proposed site. In addition to the township, Otsego and Van Buren counties also have sites under consideration by Vesper.
Prior to the construction of an energy facility, the township will implement an ordinance to safely regulate its operation. Key in the ordinance will be Public Act 233, which lawmakers approved last November. The Act goes into effect Nov. 29, and shifts the authority from local to the Michigan Public Service Commission for massive wind, solar, and energy storage facilities in some cases.
“If we (Groveland Township) don’t introduce any legislation to cover the (battery, solar or wind power) systems, we are going to be stuck with whatever EGLE (Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) decides the rules should be,” said Bob DePalma, Groveland Township supervisor.
As a result, township officials have been consulting with the Michigan Township Association, EGLE and Michigan State University that were hired to write the first ordinances.
The first drafts of the new ordinances will be discussed at 5:30 p.m., June 12, at the Groveland Township Offices, 4695 Grange Hall Road. An EGLE representative from Michigan State University will discuss with the community the new ordinance and provided information.
“Several of the issues have been covered so far, however, there are two or three areas that we could go beyond in an ordinance,” said DePalma. “However, we have to have our ordinance in place before EGLE does this fall.”
Vesper Energy has been very cooperative, said DePalma.
“The flavor of the discussion is positive for us to make some changes to enhance the ability of this site to go in,” he said. “The state has made a commitment to do this, according to PA 233, the question is, do you want to work with the vendors to have a positive relationship to see if it can be modified for your own community?”
State Representative David Martian (R), 68th district attended the meeting and responded to Act 233 which will be in effect this year.
“This (act) passed the state legislature on pure partisan lines; the governor pushed this hard,” said Martin. “What you are stuck with is if a landowner wants to sell their farm, he can do this without any ordinance restrictions. Anything the state wants to fix this green energy grid they come in and take, if the land owner is willing to sell it, they don’t have to ask the local township or municipality if it fits or not. They can just take, that’s the problem. You don’t have a lot of options.”
Financial incentives are considered by Groveland Township officials
Through the Renewables Ready Communities Award, EGLE will provide $5,000 per megawatt (MW) to permitters and expectant hosts of eligibility utility-scale renewable energy projects which underwent local permitting processes, with $2,500 per MW granted to each awardee in cases when host and permitter differ. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30, 2024.
The Vesper Energy project will produce 300 MW and if completed would provide $1.5 million for Groveland Township.

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