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Eversource pulls Westmoreland project planned to help during outages

Keene Sentinel

Mar. 26--WESTMORELAND -- Eversource has withdrawn its proposal for a $7 million battery-storage project that the company had hoped would improve service reliability for customers in town.

The company says it's re-evaluating after the N.H. Public Utilities Commission, which grants approvals for such projects, suggested broadening the scope.

Last spring, Eversource pitched a plan to build a 1.7-megawatt battery at the corner of River and Partridge Brook roads in Westmoreland, near the base of the Maplewood Nursing Home driveway. Cheshire County intended to lease the vacant land to the company.

The battery cells would have stored electricity from the grid and served as a backup during an outage. An Eversource representative also said last year that the battery could reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from oil burning in the summer, during times of highest usage, by supplying electricity back to the grid.

After failing to get approval from the Public Utilities Commission, however, Eversource withdrew its project proposal in a Feb. 28 letter to the commission.

Westmoreland selectboard member Clayton Stalker said town officials were surprised and disappointed to learn about the withdrawal.

"We were hoping it was going to help the folks on that end of town," Stalker said.

He'd like to see projects similar to this one gain traction, noting that "power outages are a problem for [Eversource] as much as they are for us."

In a presentation to the Cheshire County Board of Commissioners last May, Eversource representatives said Westmoreland customers had experienced 27 outages since November 2012, averaging 2.6 hours each. Eversource serves nearly 450 customers in town.

The company has explained that, because only one major power line serves the town, Westmoreland is more prone to outages than other communities. The battery would have kicked in during an outage and powered the town for up to four hours at peak electricity usage -- and longer during lower-usage times -- while crews worked to restore power.

During conversations with Eversource about the project, the Public Utilities Commission indicated an interest in using the battery cells for more than just improving reliability in Westmoreland, according to company spokesman William Hinkle.

This was one of the first proposals of a battery-storage site of this size in New Hampshire, he said, and the commission wanted to see how it could also be used to offset high demand on the power grid.

But that was more expansive than what Eversource had originally proposed. In a statement, Hinkle wrote that the company remains committed to improving service reliability in Westmoreland and is re-evaluating the project with hopes of bringing a "successful energy storage proposal" to the state commission "as soon as reasonably possible."

In an interview, Hinkle said he didn't have a timeline for such a proposal. When asked if the project would still be in Westmoreland, he said the company is "re-evaluating."

Sierra Hubbard can be reached at 355-8546 or at Follow her on Twitter at @SierraHubbardKS.


(c)2020 The Keene Sentinel (Keene, N.H.)

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