North OC Battery Storage System Could Hinge On Land Swap
OCEAN CITY – After a marathon public hearing this week, resort planners agreed to forward a recommendation to the Mayor and Council allowing for Delmarva Power to develop a battery energy storage system on one of two north-end parcels.
It’s complicated, but in layman’s terms, a battery energy storage system, or BESS, would be a fallback energy source in the resort for Delmarva Power and Light (DPL) during times of peak electricity use on the barrier island. It is part of DPL’s efforts to improve and ensure reliability at peak times.
In 2019, the state of Maryland, through the Public Service Commission (PSC), initiated a pilot program known as the Maryland Energy Storage Pilot Program. The purpose of the pilot program is to explore the efficiency of deploying utility-scale energy storage throughout the state including Ocean City.
Complicating the issue further, DPL owns a lot at 100th Street suitable for the installation of a BESS, while Ocean City owns an adjacent lot of identical size and shape just to the south. For years, the Mayor and Council have been debating a land swap with DPL for the two parcels. The swap would allow the town to consolidate its other parcels in the area, while DPL would have a suitable site on which to install the state-mandated BESS.
During Tuesday’s meeting, DPL submitted applications for a conditional use to install a BESS on either of the parcels, depending on the outcome of the land swap. As a result, the planning commission held two separate public hearings contingent on the outcome of the land swap. Attorney Ryan Showalter, representing DPL, explained the situation and the need for the joint approvals.
“We need to construct a battery energy storage system,” he said. “Delmarva Power and Light owns one parcel, and the Town of Ocean City owns the adjacent parcel. There has been discussion for years about swapping the land. By doing so, it would preserve the flexibility for the Mayor and Council for a future project.”
There was no shortage of technical engineering details provided about the BESS and what it does and what it provides, but DPL’s Heather Roberts explained the need succinctly.
“During high peak times in the summer, the BESS will protect the grid,” she said. “It will help ensure reliability.”
At either location, the BESS would essentially by a rectangular building about 10 feet by 50 feet and around 12-feet above ground level. It would house panels of lithium batteries that could be used as a backup energy source during times of peak usage. It would be fenced in and screened with landscaping, and the colors of the structure and the surrounding fence would make it bleed into the landscape.
During the public comment period of the hearing, concerns were raised by residents and property owners in the immediate area.