The Henderson County Fiscal Court on Tuesday sent a battery energy storage systems ordinance to the Henderson-Henderson County Joint Planning Commission so that it can hold a public hearing on the proposal.
That public hearing most likely will occur at the Feb. 7 meeting of the joint planning commission, said Brian Bishop, executive director of the planning commission.
The battery storage ordinance is largely the same as what the Henderson Board of Commissioners approved in November. There are slight differences, though, according to Bishop.
The city ordinance requires that a large battery installation be placed in parcels zoned as heavy industrial, whereas the proposed county ordinance will require those parcels be zoned as heavy industrial or light industrial, Bishop said.
Officials who crafted the city’s ordinance were wary that fires, some massive, have occurred at utility-size battery energy storage systems across the country. They said heavy industrial—with its required 100-foot frontage from an installation to residential property—would allow a larger buffer if a fire were to break out.
These massive fires, called thermal energy runaways, are caused when batteries inside the compartments of a storage system overheat, and experts say the best way to deal with them is to let the fire burn out, according to a previous article in the Hendersonian.
Brad Bickett, the general manager of Henderson Municipal Power and Light, has said thermal runaway events are rare, and technology is improving so that they occur even less often.
Bishop said the space between these installations and residential property is less of a concern in the county because it is much less dense than the city.
Therefore, a light industrial zoning is appropriate because it’s consistent with the type of equipment associated with a battery energy storage system and close proximity of one of these installations to a residential area will not be as likely to be a concern in the county, Bishop said.
Additionally, the nearest residential property to the parcel on Toy Anthoston Road is 1,600 feet away, Bishop said.
Both county and city governments are putting in or have put in ordinances for these installations because energy companies have expressed interest to locate here.
Yellowthroat Energy Storage LLC, a subsidiary of Tenaska Energy, has submitted plans to the joint planning commission staff to build a battery installation on a 35-plus acre parcel on Toy-Anthoston Road, near Airline Road, according to planning commission documents.
The land is currently zoned agriculture. The company is requesting the land to be rezoned to light industrial, according to the documents.
Though the parcel of land is 35-plus acres, the installation would be situated in an 8.82 fenced-in enclosure of the re-zoned land, documents show.
In other news from Tuesday’s Fiscal Court meeting:
- Jailer Bruce Todd said the detention center has purchased a new body scanner. He said the Tek84 Intercept body scanner will allow jail employees to detect and confiscate drugs and weapons that inmates attempt to smuggle in.
The equipment costs $151,000 that was paid for with jail funds, Todd said. The detention center also secured a $100,000 grant that went toward the purchase, Todd said.
He also said another positive about the Tek84 is that it can be installed in the jail’s intake area without any renovation.
- Former banker James Orrahood, who now in retirement works security at Columbia, presented an award to the company for all the good it does for the community. To show his appreciation, Orrahood created a unique and ornate model that he presented to company representatives at the meeting. He said it took him six months to complete it.