Federal Funds To Pay For 173 E-Charging Stations At 50+ NYCHA Sites

Published on June 25, 2023, 5:16 pm
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Detailing a critically-needed federal win for NYCHA and e-bike safety across NYC, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood alongside New York City Mayor Eric Adams to announce that 173 electric mobility charging and storage stations are coming to the city. Schumer and Gillibrand said that $25,000,000 in fed funds will go towards the construction, and electrical work needed to make this project complete. The project will fund the engineering and installation at 53 outdoor New York City Housing Authority sites. Engineering and construction aspects include electrical supply, utilities, drainage, fire safety requirements, security, safety, lighting, and accessibility.

Schumer explained how NYC received this federal award as he also detailed how over the past few years, there have been a growing number of fires across NYC, Long Island and beyond caused by lithium-ion batteries used in e-bikes and e-scooters—often spurred during charging. There were 216 of these battery fires last year, a dramatic increase in fires from the 44 that occurred in 2020. This year, there have already been 30 battery fires in NYC, which have left 40 injured and 2 dead.

“We are in a time where technology is outpacing federal safety action in many ways, moving faster than the measures we need to keep the public safe, and there might be no better example of this dilemma than with the cheap, china-made lithium-ion batteries in the e-bikes, e-scooters and other devices that are now as common in the home as a toaster—but far, far less regulated,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “So, we are here today to deliver an infusion of $25 million to NYCHA for the installation of safe charging stations that will save lives and make these devices so much safer. As fires and injuries caused by these batteries are climbing across New York, federal action is needed to protect consumers and also our brave firefighters who are on the front lines of this new paradigm in fire prevention spurred by these unpredictable, and often times, very dangerous batteries.”

“Far too many lives have already been lost to fires caused by faulty e-bike batteries in New York City, and I am launching a multipronged approach to solve this issue. In addition to the federal bill I helped introduce to establish a consumer product safety standard for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, I am proud to have helped secure $25 million in federal dollars directly to NYCHA to increase outdoor charging stations,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Providing safe storage and accessible charging infrastructure for micro-mobility transportation outside of New Yorkers’ homes, especially the homes of low-income NYCHA residents, will help save lives and reduce carbon emissions in New York City.”

“New York City has already seen 110 lithium-ion battery-related fires this year, and just this week, in one fire alone, four of our fellow New Yorkers lost their lives. Working hand in hand with our federal partners, our administration is taking action,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Under our ‘Charge Safe, Ride Safe’ plan, we are supercharging safety for all e-bike and e-scooter users — promoting safe devices, expanding education, increasing enforcement on high-risk situations, and pursuing additional regulation. This $25 million federal grant will help create much-needed safe charging infrastructure at 157 NYCHA developments. Thank you to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Schumer and President Biden for recognizing the urgency of this crisis and providing New York City the resources we need to act.”

“This model for safe storage and charging shows that New York City is a leader in supporting the safety of our delivery workers, e-bike users, and NYCHA residents,” said New York City Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “This funding from the Biden administration, in partnership with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Schumer, will ensure the city can encourage more sustainable modes of transportation and delivery while protecting New Yorkers from deadly fires due to unsafe equipment.”

Schumer explained, this emergency funding for NYCHA comes from the federal DOT, a RAISE grant program, which stands for Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity. The funding will be used to install electric micro-mobility charging and storage stations at fifty-three NYCHA developments across all five boroughs in New York City. The project will vastly reduce or eliminate potential fire hazards linked to lithium-ion battery micro-mobility devices such as e-bikes and e-scooters.

Schumer and Gillibrand said that since their inception, micro-mobility devices have been an important form of transportation that help people meet their transportation needs. The increased popularity of micro-mobility devices has also raised concerns about safety challenges associated with the charging and storage of lithium-ion battery-powered micro-mobility devices in NYCHA apartments. The agency, despite these challenges, remains committed to its mission of providing safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible transportation options for all of its residents.

The $25M award will be used for NYCHA’s proposed project, “Safe Access for Electric Micromobility” (SAFE Micromobility). The project proposes to install 173 electric micromobility charging and storage stations at fifty-three NYCHA developments across all five boroughs in New York City. As of April 2023, there have been sixty-three reported fires caused by lithium-ion batteries, resulting in dozens of injuries and five deaths. The increased availability of outdoor charging and storage stations is intended to reduce or eliminate potential fire hazards linked to lithium-ion battery micro-mobility devices, such as e-bikes. Providing safe storage and accessible charging infrastructure will help to alleviate many of the safety concerns associated with micromobility transportation for NYCHA residents, while also helping to reduce carbon emissions in New York City.

Schumer and Gillibrand are also pushing a bill that would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to promulgate a consumer product safety standard with respect to rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in personal mobility devices, and for other purposes.

According to FDNY, lithium-ion batteries are used in various devices. These batteries are commonly used in cell phones, laptops, tablets, electric cars, and scooters. Lithium-ion batteries store a large amount of energy and can pose a threat if not treated properly. Like any product, a small number of these batteries are defective. They can overheat, catch fire, or explode.

Be #FDNYSmart if using any devices powered by lithium-ion batteries:

  • ·         When purchasing devices, be sure that the equipment has the Underwriters Laboratories Mark. The UL mark shows that the product has been safety tested.
  • ·         Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and storage.
  • ·         Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed, or on a couch.
  • ·         Always use the manufacturer’s cord and power adapter made specifically for the device.
  • ·         Keep batteries/devices at room temperature. Do not place in direct sunlight.
  • ·         Store batteries away from anything flammable.
  • ·         If a battery overheats or you notice an odor, change in shape/color, leaking, or odd noises from a device discontinue use immediately. If safe to do so, move the device away from anything that can catch fire and call 9-1-1.
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