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Arizona cities enact battery storage laws for utilities, homeowners

Note: The following addresses batteries used for utility grid quality, for low voltage ride through and frequency control – not for electrical energy storage - storage batteries are not yet available, if / when developed those storage batteries will cover the landscape and cost more than an arm and a leg.  Here is the press release, verbatim (Jen Fifield, Arizona Republic, Published 7:00 a.m. MT Sept. 30, 2019):

After APS explosion injures 4 firefighters, Arizona cities enact battery storage laws for utilities, homeowners

When firefighters were called to an Arizona Public Service Co. facility in Surprise earlier this year for a fire, they didn't know there were giant batteries inside, storing energy for future use on the electrical grid.

They found out when they got to the scene, and conducted tests before entering the building.

After firefighters had entered, the place exploded. Four firefighters were injured. 

As the investigation into the April 19 explosion continues, Valley cities are enacting new laws to try to make sure something similar doesn't happen again.

"Once you have an incident that hurts firefighters, it wakes us all up," said Brian Scholl, deputy fire marshal for the Phoenix Fire Department.

This summer, Phoenix, Peoria and Surprise enacted laws that for the first time address how giant batteries are stored. Mesa is considering doing the same.

Fire officials in Phoenix and Surprise are pushing other cities to enact the laws, and hope they will soon become consistent across the Valley and state.

New battery rules for utilities, businesses and homeowners

The new laws apply to homeowners, businesses and schools installing giant batteries to store energy from solar panels or for electric vehicles.

Perhaps most notably, though, the laws also include new rules for public utilities that build battery storage facilities along the grid to store energy — as APS had done in Surprise at the company's McMicken site.

Utilities now need to notify cities when building the facilities, receive permits and inspections, and build the facilities with certain safety features.

Surprise Fire Chief Tom Abbott says the laws will allow first responders to know where the batteries are located, and to ensure that the batteries are stored in a way that offers protections to firefighters and the public.

After the Surprise explosion, the cities began working together to come up with the rules, with help from fire officials in New York City.

 

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 1, 2019 12:54 pm GMT

It's sad this had to happen, but it seems like the common sense measures are now being taken: 

Utilities now need to notify cities when building the facilities, receive permits and inspections, and build the facilities with certain safety features.

 

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