Thoughts on proposed location for Battery Energy Storage System | Letter to the editor

The proposed location for a massive grid sized Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), is a parcel designated as RC, a rural area. Resource Conservation is zoned for LDSF, 1 unit per 1 acre or 10 acres. Developments allowed are rural and agricultural in nature. Footprint limits are a maximum of 35% on a 10 acre parcel. This industrial/commercial project is non-conforming to the Land Use Plan in its type and scope.

The exact location is parcel # 623059131, a rural location, north of the homes on SE 5th St, across from River View Park, off the Maple Valley Road. This community of over 140 modest homes, was built in 1943. This complex would be an eyesore and completely out of keeping with local vernacular housing, no less important is the potential risk to our health and safety, and potentially for miles around.

Characteristics of the parcel, are; a wild-life corridor, 2 streams, (S-29), a 6 acre Wet-land, (W-48), APA zone 1 of the Aquifer, land slide hazards, and woods.

There is a pre-application review process ongoing by the City of Renton regarding this project, which would involve, Lithium-ion batteries, stored in racks held inside large trailers, covering 9.3 acres. The total footprint is over 16 acres. The set back is only 50’ from the property lines, from our children playing in the back gardens.

Safety protocols and systems are touted, which are only as good as current knowledge, and are not infallible. Events such as earthquakes or land-slides have not been addressed.

Smaller installation do not decrease risks associated with overheating, possible fire, and the release of toxic gasses, and explosions. The recent Tesla car battery fire (although not in a BESS), required 25,000 gals of water to extinguish, imagine what would be needed for 9.3 acres.

We are a lower income community, and as such, history has shown that these communities are usually at more risk of being taken advantage of, in order to push through projects that are not compatible, and put the communities close by at risk for health and safety impacts. You only have to read the papers about health issues arising from decades of exposure to toxic environments, where the victims have little recourse for justice.

Please imagine yourself in the same position as residents of this community. How would you feel if you weren’t sure you could keep your children and other loved ones safe, and home was no longer the place where you felt you could plan a future? This small rural enclave, and our homes offer respite against the pressures of life, things we can all identify with?

Yes, reducing fossil fuel dependence and greenhouse gas emissions are essential, but such facilities aren’t for towns and cities, even on their green margins. This project would, devastate a community, destroy a rural area, put its residents at risk, cause the loss of property values, and cannot be justified for any reason.

A remote location needs to be found.

Nicola Robinson, Renton