From heat waves to generational flooding, New York has suffered through extreme weather events this summer – events that will only become more common if we don’t act to address the climate crisis. Taking a necessary, bold step for New York’s future, the state’s leadership has committed to some of the most ambitious climate goals in the country, including using renewable energy for 70% of the state’s electricity by the end of this decade.
When we think of renewable energy infrastructure, we often think of solar panels and wind turbines – devices that produce this energy. But equally important is energy storage.
At times of high energy demand, like a hot summer day, or when renewable sources cannot produce enough supply when needed, our state must rely on fossil fuel-emitting “peaker” plants to meet demand and keep the lights on. This limits our ability to decarbonize New York.
That’s where stationary Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) come in. BESS store energy produced by solar panels, wind turbines, and other sources, enabling us to maximize the use of renewable energy and transition to a more reliable and resilient power grid.
To address the state’s climate challenges, Governor Hochul set a goal of 6 gigawatts of storage by 2030, representing at least 20 percent of the peak electricity load of the State. We are still far from that goal today, and NYISO anticipates there will be a shortage of available power during summer peak demand times in New York City in 2025.
So, New York needs more BESS – but we also must design them safely. In recent months, incidents at three BESS sites in New York have raised concerns about the safety of BESS. In response, Governor Hochul created the Inter-Agency Fire Safety Working Group to analyze recent incidents, consult with leading fire safety officials, and identify best practices to ensure safety going forward.
We applaud Governor Hochul for taking swift action to keep New Yorkers safe. We at Hecate Grid recently announced our plans for Swiftsure, a proposed new BESS in Staten Island capable of providing the equivalent power of approximately 500,000 homes and meeting 10% of the State’s 2030 battery energy storage goal. Swiftsure will supply reliable energy to Staten Island and all of New York City.
Our top priority at Hecate Grid is–and will always be–safety. We’re proud that we’ve been developing and operating BESS sites since 2019 without incident and continue to work to improve our practices. We cannot take safety for granted and Governor Hochul is right to go the extra mile to ensure New Yorkers are protected in our energy transition.
In addition to implementing the recommendations of the fire safety working group, BESS developers continue to incorporate other critical safety measures to protect residents. In New York City, the FDNY must thoroughly review and approve the technology used in BESS before construction. Additionally, we at Hecate Grid prioritize safety from equipment selection through project design, operations and maintenance. We also leverage tested, state-of-the-art technology that enables the project operations team to monitor and evaluate system performance down to the module level – 24 hours a day, seven days a week – so that we can take preventive and immediate action to help avoid emergencies.
A safe, clean, reliable energy future is possible for New York, but it requires the responsible development of BESS sites. We are excited about the governor’s efforts, and stand ready to help New York’s leaders implement a strategy to safely develop these vital projects.
Kent Truckor is Senior Director of Development and Origination at Hecate Grid.