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NYS poised to update fire code for battery storage systems


Hochul: ” … to ensure New York’s clean energy transition is done safely and responsibly”

By Andrew Harris

No matter how you feel about it, the future in New York State is more solar farms, wind farms, and other green energy production. As these facilities go online and begin producing energy, storing that energy is a major challenge. Placing energy into batteries creates heat and major fire danger as seen below in our previous reporting on a big fire in Jefferson County NY. There were also major fires in Orange and Suffolk counties.

New York State has announced that revisions to the state fire code are under way in order to mitigate the risk that mass battery storage creates. According to NY State, the revisions will address fire code, industry best practices, and emergency response:

“The revisions address preventative and responsive measures as well as best practices, and include proposed requirements related to peer review of project permit application packages, emergency response planning, and local fire department training, among others.”

More from NYS on the importance of having the best energy infrastructure in the nation. To read the proposed changes in the regulations:

Battery energy storage systems are a critical component to achieving a reliable, zero-emissions electric grid since the storage of electricity can help balance the load on the grid during high demand or reduced generation periods. Following a series of fires at three BESS locations across New York State in the summer of 2023, Governor Hochul convened the Inter-Agency Fire Safety Working Group to address safety concerns around lithium-ion BESS. The Working Group includes State agency officials from the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Public Service, the Department of State, and the New York Power Authority as well as nation-leading BESS safety industry experts with the objectives of investigating the recent failure events, inspecting current installations and identifying gaps in codes and industry best practices.

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “Realizing the full potential of New York’s clean energy future requires leadership and a commitment to the safe and responsible deployment of battery energy storage systems. These proposed recommendations put forth by the Governor’s Inter-Agency Working Group provide a blueprint for advancing this critical technology with the latest codes, standards and best practices to safeguard communities and first responders while ensuring these systems continue to enhance the resiliency and efficiency of the State’s electric grid.”
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