League City community concerned about proposed battery storage facility near school and neighborhood

Alex Bozarjian Image
Tuesday, March 12, 2024
League City residents concerned over proposed battery storage facility
League City residents are worried about a proposed battery storage site that's expected to sit on the corner of State Highway 3 and Washington Street.

LEAGUE CITY, Texas (KTRK) -- Major red flags are being raised about a proposed battery storage facility in League City.

If the plans are approved, it will sit on the corner of State Highway 3 and Washington Street.

A yard sale-like sign is how most residents found out there was even a proposal to build a battery storage facility.

The main concern is it would sit 1,500 feet from Parr Elementary School and 500 feet from the Oaks of Clear Creek neighborhood.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted it down twice, but ultimately, the city council has the final vote on April 9.

"I can't imagine what was in somebody's head that decided this would be a good idea," Christine Thomas, a 20-year Oak Clear Creek neighborhood resident, said.

Thomas' confusion is centered around 5.8 acres of grass that could soon have a battery energy storage system on top of it.

Thomas and her neighbors came to ABC13 hoping to have their voices heard.

"We are finding ourselves in a state of fear quickly trying to grasp a lot of facts, and none of us are experts here," neighbor Mary Gibson said.

The storage system, often called BESS, is meant to help with electrical supply and demand issues.

The applicant for the site, Cypress Creek Renewables, explained what it does in a Planning and Zoning Commission meeting earlier this month.

"Not too dissimilar to the technology in your phone when your phone charges when you sleep, energy storage systems conveniently and efficiently capture energy when you sleep," Parker Sloan of Cypress Creek Renewables said. "So that it can be used when it's most needed."

People in the neighborhood have multiple concerns, including the potential for fires and environmental risks.

In a meeting last month, League City Fire Marshal Lee Darrow mentioned a new fire code adopted in 2022 regarding BESS systems.

"How much training has been given to firefighters since then because we are only in 2023?" Commissioner Pamela Arnold asked.

"On the Bess systems? We haven't received any training yet," Darrow answered.

Thirty-year Oaks Clear Creek resident Darlene Peaks said no amount of tax revenue is worth potential risks.

In the event of a shelter-in-place order, residents are advised to turn off HVAC systems and cut off ventilation. Peaks worries about this, especially in the thick of a Texas summer.

"This is something that affects us deeply. Our very lives could depend on it, and the lives of our children - we don't know what the effects would be if something happened," Peaks said.

A third-party firm, DNV, studied potential risks.

It reported toxic fumes would not impact people if the systems failed or overheated but did acknowledge uncertainties in their findings.

"We obviously are lacking in policy and procedures to inform the citizens of League City," Thomas said.

The League City's city manager didn't respond to our request for comment, nor did the city's director of communications.

In the meantime, neighbors are collecting signatures to petition the move.

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