May 10, 2023
State website: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/cranberry-p
The EFSB unanimously voted that the agency does not have jurisdiction over energy storage facilities that are 100 megawatts or more because they do not “generate” energy but store it. This is a victory for proper energy facility siting and local communities faced with an onslaught of projects called “green” and renewable but that have big impacts not properly considered under current regulatory programs. The EFSB ruled that the law that gives it the power to approve energy generating projects is outdated and does not cover the types of large private battery storage facilities being proposed for the small towns of Carver and Medway, Massachusetts. The fight over Cranberry Point in Carver is not over as of November, 2023.
The Southeastern Massachusetts group Save the Pine Barrens opposed the 150 megawatt project proposed for Carver saying the EFSB did not have jurisdiction and the project was not properly designed to address the dangers and risks of the lithium ion battery facility in the dense residential neighborhood where it is proposed. The EFSB did not decide on whether the project is dangerous or not, but agreed it does not have legal jurisdiction to consider the applications.
The EFSB’s decision states the “Siting Board dismisses the Petition to Construct for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.” See the tentative Decision adopted below. The website is here:
In 2023, the state Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”) exempted Cranberry Point from Carver’s Zoning Bylaw. This does not exempt Cranberry Point from the General Bylaws. Find out more about the campaign to amend the Carver General Bylaw to protect residents and the environment from dangerous battery storage projects.
The Carver Planning Board extended Cranberry Point’s site plan review and special permit in 2023.
STPB and local residents challenged the project at the EFSB starting in early 2021 sending petitions, participating in hearings and submitting expert testimony. The EFSB did not decide on the merits of the project, only decided it cannot legally even consider it. The EFSB also plans to rule it has no jurisdiction over the 250 megawatt Medway (MA) Grid BESS project.
EFSB decision is a significant setback for Cranberry Point and a win for the people of the area who came together to protect our drinking water and neighborhoods!
This Decision does not stop the project entirely. The project has to pass through the Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”). Cranberry Point asked the DPU to exempt it from all zoning. On July 11, 2022, the Carver Selectboard wrote a letter to the DPU asking them not to exempt Cranberry Point from zoning. On July 13, 2022, the Planning Board also wrote a letter.
At the April 2023 Town Meeting, voters overwhelmingly passed a zoning change that prohibits large battery projects in residential neighborhoods. This is an impediment for Cranberry Point and another setback.
On May 9, 2023 the Carver Planning Board voted to extend Cranberry Point’s special permit under the zoning law for one year. On April 25, 2023 the Board voted to grant a minor modification to the site plan. These decisions can be appealed.
All information is on EFSB website
EFSB Docket for case with the both side’s filings.
Some important events:
August 25, 2022: Nearly 1,500 letters sent to the Carver Select Board, Planning Board, Town Manager and Town Administrator from concerned citizens urging them to not allow Cranberry Point to be exempt from Carver’s zoning laws.
July 26, 2022: Over 360 letters letters sent to the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) by concerned citizens urging the Board to not allow Cranberry Point to be exempt from Carver’s zoning laws.
May 6, 2022: Save the Pine Barrens wins the right full participation in the hearing. EFSB Hearing Officer’s Decision is here.
April 2022: Carver Town Meeting passes a moratorium on battery storage that would ban Cranberry Point. The moratorium took effect immediately. In November 2022, the Attorney General disapproved the moratorium. The reason was that the Town had not submitted enough information on safety, risk to human health, water and the community to support a moratorium. The Attorney General did not say the moratorium itself was unlawful. The moratorium was in effect from April to November 2022.
November 8, 2021 video of the EFSB hearing on the Cranberry Point
Below: Attorney General Letter on Battery Moratorium