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April 12th, 2021
We Are Going to Our Build Way Out of This Crisis & Bring NYC Into the 21st Century
**RELEASE** April 12th, 2021
Andrew Breaks Ground At New Battery Storage System In Williamsburg That Will Be A Backbone Of A Successful Transition To Renewable Energy Sources Calls for City to Streamline City Permitting for Construction and Development, Get Shovels in the Ground on Priority Projects
New York, NY—Today, Andrew Yang broke ground on a new battery storage system in Williamsburg, New York developed by Microgrids Network (MGN). Projects like MGN’s new battery storage system will help New York City reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and transition to a clean economy. As NYSERDA has highlighted, battery energy storage solutions are essential to a resilient and reliable power grid, the adoption of sustainable energy generation, and a clean energy economy.
But across the five boroughs, dozens of major projects like the Williamsburg battery storage system are stalled by bureaucracy, burdensome permitting requirements, and long-standing political battles. At the groundbreaking, Andrew called for city government to streamline the permitting process for important construction and development projects. To create a culture that rewards action and directly addresses one of the chief sources of building paralysis, Andrew will commit his administration to cutting permitting time in half for affordable housing, clean energy, and major infrastructure projects.
Said Andrew Yang, “At the rate we’re currently going, New York City will never make a meaningful transition to clean energy, nor will we come close to fulfilling the potential for green infrastructure projects to create jobs. Especially with expected federal funding for infrastructure coming our way, we need to think big and build the political will to execute on transformational projects. Narrow special interests opposed to building can no longer exercise veto power over major projects that will create good jobs and save our planet. Government can and must do better.”
MGN has raised close to $200 million in private investment with plans to build dozens of battery storage projects around New York City. These projects will create thousands of jobs over the next three to four years. But the battery storage projects have been bogged down in the city’s byzantine permitting process, which requires multiple overlapping reviews by as many as four separate agencies, much of which is still conducted through the exchange of letters. In the case of the Williamsburg project, the permitting process delayed the construction start by 18 months - even though construction itself will only take 3-4 months.
The energy stored at MGN’s Williamsburg site will directly displace emissions from combustion generation, particularly from peaker plants which operate only in times of high energy demand. For example, the Kent Peaker plant located in Williamsburg, 10,000 feet west of this site, produces the following emissions annually:
- 27,685 tons of CO2
- 2.4 Tons of Nitrous Oxide (Nox)
- 14 Tons of Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)
Continued Yang, “We are going to build our way out of the immediate economic crisis and the urgent climate crisis. As Mayor, I will hire more permitting staff, build in-house expertise on priority project types like new energy systems, direct City agencies to simplify the permitting process, and put in place technology to improve coordination and provide transparency. We will help companies like MGN to get shovels in the ground and projects built. By working with the private sector and focusing on shovel-ready and shovel-worthy projects, we can build 21st century projects for a 21st century economy. ”
Additional Detail on Permitting Reform
New York City is notorious for its byzantine permitting process for everything from a minor renovation to new construction. The system is plagued by vague requirements, caprice, and long delays that create uncertainty for developers, making it more expensive to build and ultimately driving housing costs higher. The complexities of the system have spawned a whole cottage industry of “expeditors” dedicated solely to helping builders navigate the permitting process. The City’s review of new permits and renovations must be thorough, but need not be lengthy and opaque. A Yang Administration will take common sense steps, like further integrating technology into the permitting workflow at key agencies like DOB and FDNY, hiring more permitting staff, establishing dedicated teams with sector and technology specific expertise for high priority project types, like battery storage, and enabling applications for closely related projects to be processed on the basis of exceptions from prior successful permits, rather than having to start from scratch for every project.