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NYC tenants sue landlord, city over installation of roof battery

Aggrieved renters in Brooklyn have filed an unusual lawsuit regarding battery storage.

At 315 Berry Street in Williamsburg, residents have filed a lawsuit against the city and the building's owner over a plan to have a private company install a giant lithium-ion battery on the roof.

If built, the substation would be the first in the United States, and possibly the world, to be installed on the roof of a home.

Last year, the Post reported on a situation in which the city's single agency Board of Standards and Appeals stood between Microgrid Networks and its plan to install a 2.5-megawatt energy storage bank on the roof of a seven-story loft building. Ta.

In August, the board gave its blessing to the microgrid through a special use permit, but residents called for a reversal of the decision, calling power banks “a highly dangerous lithium battery storage system,” which the board said It is an abuse of the board's discretion. Approved, according to a lawsuit filed this week in New York State Supreme Court. genuine First reported.

The lawsuit also alleges that because the building is rent-stabilized, the Department of Housing and Community Renewal also had to approve before giving the microgrid a permit to use the battery, which would have prevented the building's fire from causing a fire. It is further argued that there is an increased risk of

315 Berry rooftop entrance. Provided by: 315 Berry Street Tenant
Longtime tenants say the building is in poor condition. Provided by: 315 Berry Street Tenant
Residents told the Post that flooding inside buildings is a frequent problem. Provided by: 315 Berry Street Tenant

But landlord Richard Herbst told the Post that the microgrid plan was already off the table before the lawsuit was filed.

“[The] In fact, we have long abandoned the idea of ​​installing battery storage systems in buildings,” he told the Post in an email, adding that he had not yet seen the lawsuit. “Last year, while other construction was taking place in the building, we had an opportunity to complete the battery project with minimal inconvenience to residents. That opportunity is now gone.”

For Herbst, the “losers” in this situation are “the residents of Williamsburg's waterfront community who would have benefited from a more robust and cleaner energy supply.”

In response, tenants said they had no knowledge that the battery project was submerged, but believed the problem was much bigger than the building.

“It's not just us, it's the whole city,” one resident commented.

Microgrid did not respond to the Post's request for comment, and BSA said it does not comment on matters pending in litigation.

Lithium-ion phosphate banks like this, while orders of magnitude larger, are distinctly different from the batteries used in e-bikes, and are certainly gaining traction as the future of green energy in cities, with similar ones currently being sold by Barclays. Located atop the Center, JFK Airport's popular TWA Hotel. But Herbst currently believes that installing them on residential rooftops would require the city to “require owners to retrofit their buildings to support the power grid.”

In fact, Herbst is warning other landowners not to allow batteries on their roofs in the current climate.

“I have since heard that the city changed its urban planning law to make it easier to install battery storage systems in residential areas,” he said. “However, unless the owner has included a liability waiver from lawsuits, similar to what cell towers currently enjoy, we would advise owners to think twice before proceeding.”

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