County to discuss quiet zone, battery facility in Acton

The proposed site of an Acton battery energy storage system near Angeles National Forest Highway. Photo courtesy of Hecate Grid.
The proposed site of an Acton battery energy storage system near Angeles National Forest Highway. Photo courtesy of Hecate Grid.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday is expected to discuss a pair of items that could draw a large crowd to the meeting in downtown Los Angeles.  

The first item is a quiet zone that would address concerns from residents irked by the noise from Metrolink’s Antelope Valley Line. 

The second is a long-shot appeal of a massive battery system that’s likely to draw a slightly larger crowd. A group of residents’ monthslong campaign to try and stop a large-scale battery-storage array could come to an end with a hearing for residents’ appeal of the project.  

Ruthie Brock has led a local coalition of residents since June who are trying to stop the Humidor Battery Energy Storage System. The project calls for Hecate Grid to develop 15 acres of a 26-acre lot for a 400-megawatt facility, enough to power about 300,000 homes. 

She said she expects dozens of residents to sound off at the meeting, which is likely the last call for opposition to the project before the court house.  

L.A. County initially approved the Hecate Energy project Aug. 1 by a ministerial review, because of the type of facility the project was determined to be, according to county officials, who noted there are different requirements for transmission lines versus distribution. 

Ministerial reviews are not subject to appeal; however, county planners issued a notice of exemption from the state’s California Environmental Quality Act review, which is subject to appeal. 

The Acton group Save Our Rural Town, which is also suing Hecate and L.A. County over the project, filed their appeal Aug. 25. 

The following month, the group filed a lawsuit seeking to stop the project. That suit has a hearing Thursday. 

Acton Town Council President Jeremiah Owen said previously the council’s regular meeting usually draws about a dozen residents, but the week after word got out about the battery project there were more than 200 at the advisory council’s meeting. 

The area was identified by the state back in February 2021 as part of a plan to address the Public Safety Power Shutoffs prompted by problems with the state’s energy grid. 

In light of a number of projects being proposed for the area, 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger called for county staff to conduct a review of all the projects and asked for information on how the county can have more oversight of such projects.  

It appears as though this project is scheduled to be approved before that review, which was requested in June in response to residents’ anger over the BESS project, is complete. 

County officials deemed Hecate Grid’s application complete, according to county officials, which is why it was approved.   

Kent Truckor, senior director of development for Hecate Grid, said in a phone interview in October that Hecate’s equipment was constructed to meet strict safety guidelines. He also said there is misinformation going around about the project.  

In the same interview, he refused to discuss any additional projects or plans that have been questioned by Acton residents, saying his company’s focus right now is on the Humidor BESS project.  

The quiet zone motion would instruct the county to spend up to $350,000 to conduct a feasibility study to establish a Federal Railroad Administration-designated quiet zone near the Metro crossings at Crown Valley Road and Aliso Canyon Road. 

“The primary funding source for this initiative will be derived from the Fifth Supervisorial District’s Proposition A Local Return Transit Program funds,” according to the board’s agenda. 

“In response to the community’s concerns, it is imperative that the county explore proactive measures to mitigate the noise impact. Suggestions from residents include installing quieter train horns, constructing sound barriers, and imposing limitations on the frequency of horn use,” according to the agenda, which notes the measures must be in compliance with any state or federal rail regulations.

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