Last week the Marshall County Plan Commission agreed to create a subcommittee to assist with the creation of zoning regulations for Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS).

During Thursday night’s meeting, County Plan Director Ty Adley updated members on the information they requested at the May meeting.  He discussed a comparison of NFPA and the IAF which is the IC code for IFC or the International Fire Code.  The meeting requested with Tom Abbot; the former Arizona fire chief experienced in battery energy storage systems, couldn’t happen.  Adley presented additional details on the NFPA 855 standards and also read the proposed amendments to the County’s Zoning Ordinance for the 5th time.

Commission members discussed several items and then at about 70 minutes into the meeting, a public hearing was opened and five people made comments.

After further discussion and with a second vote, the County Plan Commission unanimously approved the creation of a 6 to 8-member subcommittee.  It was determined that the subcommittee will be chaired by Plan Director Ty Adley and the County Commissioners, and the County Council would each appoint an elected member to serve on the subcommittee.  There would also be a person from the fire industry and one from the electrical industry along with two members of the public that have an interest. These members would look at specific action items and then recommend amendments to the ordinance to the TRC.  After the TRC’s review the County Plan Commission would review it and once approved it would be sent to the County Commissioners for final approval.    

Commission members created a list of 9 action items they want the committee to focus on.  Those items include looking at setbacks including those between the storage containers, creating a residential portion, looking at the possibility of a required well on site and the impact an emergency event may have on the water table, reviewing the Force Major because there is concern 12 months too long, consider a prohibition of the most dangerous batteries, look at creating a second decommissioning plan for emergencies and the routine decommissioning plan, look at a need for a back-up power source, site plan review with emergencies along with their continued involvement and consider property guarantees.

It was anticipated the committee wouldn’t get started until late July and then meet every other week from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.