Three different companies are interested in creating Battery Energy Storage Systems within the township of Selwyn.
The interest in setting up these plants comes from the province’s increased demand of energy with many electric vehicles now the norm, coupled with the closure of the Pickering nuclear plant and expiring contracts for existing facilities.
Selwyn Council received a report from staff on Tuesday afternoon outlining each of these projects and what they are looking to accomplish in Selwyn.
All three applicants, Plus Power, Peterborough Utilities Group, and Northland Power, have all given delegation to council outlining their proposals.
However, each project requires the use of the Dobbin Hydro generating station at Lily Lake Road. This means not all projects will get approval as capacity at the Dobbin Station is limited.
The report stated that Power Plus, an American company is planning to have a capacity of 175 MW project located at 365 Lily Lake Road with 194 battery enclosures taking up a 10 acre footprint.
Peterborough Utilities Group (PUG), is planning a 50 MW project on 130 acres located at 395 Lily Lake Road. PUG owns the land which is currently used as a Solar Farm and for agricultural uses. Their project would take up about a four acre footprint.
Northland Power, a Toronto based company, has plans for a 100 MW project located at 0 Fife’s Bay Road which is currently vacant. Their project would take up 5-10 acres of the suitable 40 acres on the 100 acre property as there are environmental constraints.
The way the process works is that each proponent must submit their applications to the Independent Electrical Systems Operator (IESO).
According to the report, the IESO issued the Long-Term Request for Qualifications (LT1 RFQ) to establish a list of applicants with the experience and capability to successfully develop, construct and operate facilities.
Council was able to support any number or none of the application who have presented before them, over the last few months.
Their support would grant the applications more points toward the IESO application process and go a long way towards the approval of their development. Each of the applications within Selwyn are directly competing against each other due to the limited capacity of the Dobbin Tower.
Coun. Brian Henry asked staff about the decommissioning process on a possible 20 year project. He was worried what that may look like in the long term future and what assurances the township would have that it would be done properly.
He suggested that the township look into a deposit or a bond levy on these projects to ensure the protection of the environment.
Staff responded by saying they would look into it but they weren’t sure what they were allowed to do through their site plan process. Staff also mentioned that they believe it is a requiremnet for all projects to have a decommissioning plan to move forward or get approval.
Deputy Mayor Black said that his biggest concern with this is that they would be changing the nature of the area. He stated that it is some of the best farmland they have in the township. He also said that there are a number of single family homes in that area that would potentially be surrounded by industrial developments.
Coun. Mary Coulas ask Fire Chief Gord Jopling how the local fire emergency response would look like should a fire break out.
Chief Jopling explained that his team has met with both Plus Power and PUG to discuss emergency response and has a meeting scheduled for next week with Northland Power.
His team is confident with their fire protocols which would be similar to how they operate at the Hydro One Dobbin station already. These projects are designed to isolate fires and keep them contained.
It was mentioned that smoke would be the biggest factor but not enough is known about the batteries that are used, to know for sure how long they would burn.
Coulas also asked if there were any discussions between the township and the City of Peterborough.
Staff said they have not had any conversation with the City of Peterborough around the proposals that have been brought forward to them.
Mayor Sherry Senis stated, “The Peterborough utilities group is a local group. I think they gave the best presentation I think that they are not taking up Farmland. They would be located on the Lily Lake solar farm property. So if there is any of them that I felt, I could support it would be to Peterborough Utilities Group.”
Henry stated that he agrees with Senis that it was the best presentation and also clearly illustrated the respect for the environment and farmland by having agricultural practices happening on it which other companies did not do. He also liked that they were local in case a fire did break out.
Henry did ask staff however if due to Strong Mayor Powers or other factors if this project would be annexed by the city once it is developed and generating revenue.
Staff said that anything is possible however they don’t feel it is a primary consideration at this time. However someday it may be a part of Peterborough City, they just don’t know.
Coun. John Boyko also echoed his support to PUG application for their local ties and good presentation.
Council decided to support the PUG application only.
All proponents have until Dec. 12 to submit their applications to the IESO who will be awarding the successful applications in the Spring of 2024.
Anticipated construction dates are to start in 2026 with the target operational dates being in 2027.