August 16, 2023: A new multi-agency fire safety taskforce has been ordered to spearhead inspections of ESS sites across New York State.
State governor Kathy Hochul (pictured) said on July 28 the Inter-Agency Fire Safety Working Group would ensure the safety and security of ESS sites following fires at facilities in Jefferson, Orange, and Suffolk Counties this summer.
Despite such fires being “exceedingly rare” Hochul said state agencies would begin immediate inspections of energy storage sites through the working group.
She said this would help prevent fires and ensure emergency responders have the necessary training and information to prepare and deploy resources in the event of a fire.
Hochul said the working group will review ESS operations and operators — as they examine the condition of their batteries to verify operation within design parameters, correct any deficiencies, check on-site fire suppression measures and confirm fire suppression plans with local fire departments.
Findings from probes into the incidents will include a list of recommendations for stationary energy storage equipment and installations.
The findings and recommendations will be shared with organizations including the New York City Fire Department, National Fire Protection Association, International Code Council, the New York State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council and Underwriters Laboratories.
The governor did not single out sites involved in recent fires, but one is known to be Convergent Energy’s BESS facility in Warwick.
The utility reported on June 29 that investigations were underway following a fire involving one of its Powin Centipede systems.
In June 2022, Hochul unveiled plans for 22 large-scale solar and battery storage projects for some 2,408MW in New York State.
Last May, New York City fire commissioner Laura Kavanagh said she would consider supporting further measures aimed at stamping out lithium ion battery fires following a number of incidents, some fatal, involving e-scooters and e-bikes.