Energy company’s plan to place 150-ton batteries on Williamsburg rooftop ignites tenants’ fears

Energy company’s plan to place 150-ton batteries on Williamsburg rooftop ignites tenants’ fears

Residents in a Brooklyn constructing say they really feel like “guinea pigs” in a plan to set up 150-ton lithium-ion batteries on the roof of their constructing.

Microgrid Networks’ plan to set up the primary large-scale residential undertaking in New York Metropolis already has Hearth Division approval and is awaiting particular permission from town, however residents of the Williamsburg constructing proceed to fear about their security.

“They just want to push this through and it will catch on fire and I will lose my home and potentially my life, or loved ones,” Jennifer Kuipers, an artist who has lived in a big industrial loft on the fifth flooring since 1995, mentioned at a Neighborhood Board assembly Tuesday evening. “It would happen very fast and then it’s like, ‘Oops, oh well, now we’ll make laws.’”

The board has agreed and suggested towards the undertaking. Board members mentioned the plan, first reported by Bklyner, was too dangerous, echoing considerations amongst tenants who concern a lethal hearth or a roof collapse due to the load of the tools.

Skeptics have pointed to a spate of fires sparked by e-bike and e-scooter batteries as a warning of what may come to their constructing, at the same time as firm officers and scientists say the 2 should not associated and tasks like this are wanted to transfer New York towards its local weather objectives.

“We don’t see a path for installing the amount of energy storage in NYC that’s required without it being part of residential buildings and part of residential districts,” Microgrid Chief Working Workplace Timothy Dumbleton instructed Gothamist. “We don’t see how you meet the state’s goals without that happening.”

The corporate has two different battery tasks within the works in manufacturing zones in Maspeth, Queens and close to Newtown Creek in East Williamsburg and hopes to set up 70 battery storage websites that generate about 350 megawatts – about 6 % of the state’s objective – by 2030.

Microgrid has spent practically $400,000 lobbying metropolis officers to place the power storage tools on the roof of 315 Berry St. since 2020, data present.

The batteries retailer power and pump it again into the grid, with corporations like Con Edison starting to wedge the packing containers into empty tons and on high of economic buildings, just like the Barclays Middle and Kennedy Airport.

New York State has embraced lithium iron phosphate batteries as a inexperienced various to fossil fuel-burning peaker crops, which kick in throughout instances of elevated power demand. Gov. Kathy Hochul dedicated New York to growing 6,000 megawatts of power storage by 2030. That’s sufficient to doubtlessly energy up to 4 million properties for just a few hours, mentioned Dan Steingart, a chemical engineering professor at Columbia College.

“I would love to see more batteries all over New York City,” Steingart mentioned. “We can really make the grid more stable and reduce our electricity costs.”

Issues over new expertise

Residents within the seven-story former munitions manufacturing facility additionally say they’ve doubts concerning the landlord’s capacity to correctly preserve the tools and surrounding infrastructure.

The Division of Buildings hit 315 Berry St. with a partial vacate order in April 2021 after inspectors discovered “parts of the building exterior” had fallen off. The constructing is now present process exterior renovations. Chris Quirk, a resident since 1996, mentioned it’s about time.

“Twenty years ago I had an eight-foot piece of cement fall out of the fifth floor window and land on my car and destroy it,” he mentioned. “It was miraculous that no one was killed.”

FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Maiz mentioned on the group board assembly that the division is assured within the security of the tools. The FDNY issued intensive battery storage guidelines in 2019 and has ordered Microgrid and the owner to take a number of precautions, like constructing water hook-ups and handbook shut-off switches.

“We are concerned about the civilians as well as our firefighters ourselves, so we just don’t let them install anything,” mentioned Maiz. “There’s a lot of requirements before this thing is even approved.”

He sought to calm residents’ considerations that they may fall sufferer to a blaze related to ones sparked by e-bike battery fires.

“E-bike batteries are totally different,” Maiz mentioned. “They’re not regulated.”

Dumbleton, the Microgrid COO, mentioned security is paramount on the Berry St. website as a result of it’s the company’s first foray into battery storage on a residential rooftop in New York Metropolis. He dismissed considerations over the load of the tools, saying 150 tons is a fraction of the load of one- and two-story additions added to buildings.

“We’re trying to solve a real problem that the city has and the state and the city are telling us to solve this problem,” Dumbleton mentioned.

He and the property proprietor’s agent, Richie Herbst, declined to disclose how a lot Microgrid is paying to lease the rooftop however mentioned it was lower than $5,000 a month.

Herbst mentioned the undertaking has develop into a headache after years of preparation, pushback and approval processes.

“If you ask me if I would do it again, I wouldn’t,” he mentioned. “But I don’t want to discourage anyone else because this is the way we dig out of our energy crisis and we should all be cooperating and participating.”

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