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$25 million emergency federal grant will let New York City set up additional charging stations

Published June 26, 2023

NEW YORK CITY (BRAIN) — An emergency $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will enable the city to set up outdoor e-mobility battery charging and storage stations at 53 city Housing Authority developments.

The stations should start opening early next year. Each station is intended to serve 67 residents; there will be a total of 173 stations at the 53 developments funded by the grant. The city is paying for another 154 stations for a total of 327.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, both of New York, announced the emergency grant at a news conference with Mayor Eric Adams on Sunday.

“This means that residents will no longer need to charge their e-bikes in their apartments, what we find to be extremely dangerous, particularly when you charge them overnight and when you leave the charging plugged up and overcharged,” Adams said at the conference.

The Mayor’s office released a list of proposed sites at the conference. 

The emergency grant was spurred by the June 20 fire at a bike shop in the city’s Chinatown that killed four people. 

The grant is earmarked for Housing Authority developments but Schumer said there are federal funds available for projects that create charging stations in other locations.

A representative from Los Deliveristas Unidos said the organization supports the charging station project. Los Deliveristas Unidos represents workers who deliver food and other items, mostly by bike, e-bike and other light electric vehicles. 

“This announcement is a big step forward to protect New Yorkers from fires caused by lithium-ion batteries and to help us to transition to a new era of safe electric micromobility,” said William Medina, who is a member of the Worker Justice Project and a leader of Los Deliveristas Unidos. “We are proud to support this major infrastructure plans that will promote economic opportunity and improve quality of life for NYCHA residents and deliveristas,” Medina said at the news conference.

Schumer said he used his leverage as majority leader to access the grant.

“I have called both the White House and the relevant cabinet officials and said, ‘We need this grant.’ And being the majority leader ain't too shabby. We got the grant because it's so, so important. It comes from the federal DOT and I want to thank Secretary Buttigieg, who I've talked to several times about this for the grant program. It's called a RAISE Grant: Rebuilding America Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity,” Schumer said. 

Even before the Chinatown fire, Schumer and Gillibrand also are sponsors of a bill creating increased regulation of lithium-ion batteries

At the conference, the mayor and FDNY officials pledged to respond quickly to reports of unsafe charging or unsafe conditions at bike shops or elsewhere. The City, a local news source, reported last week that fire inspectors had visited the Chinatown bike shop where the fire occurred.  

According to The City, the FDNY had earlier cited the store for illegally using extension cords to charge bikes. On their return visit, the inspectors didn’t see any batteries being charged, and deemed the store cleared. The FDNY did not inspect the store’s stock of batteries despite a new law banning the sale of reconditioned or second-use batteries.

The FDNY responded to more than 300 tips about unsafe charging in the days following the Chinatown fire, according to local reports. The tips led the city to cite 10 shops with unsafe battery storage at bike shops.

Send. Schumer and Gillibrand joined Mayor Eric Adams. Photo Credit: Benny Polatseck/Mayoral Photography Office
Topics associated with this article: Electric bike

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