Stronger regulations for lithium-ion batteries in New York are needed amid concerns over fires caused by the devices, two state lawmakers said this week.
The lawmakers, Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz and state Sen. Liz Krueger, have introduced two bills meant to bolster safety standards for batteries and prevent used batteries from being used on vehicles like bicycles or electric scooters.
The measures are being introduced as easily rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have become more commonly used in a variety of devices by consumers.
“Lithium-ion batteries are increasingly ubiquitous in modern society, from rechargeable laptops and phones to e-bikes and electric cars," Dinowitz said. It is paramount that New Yorkers trust that these products are safe to use and have in their homes, and this legislation will bring our regulatory system into the 21st Century. Thank you to State Senator Krueger for her partnership on this important safety issue, and I look forward to constructive feedback from all stakeholders to make sure shoddy products do not derail technological progress.”
One bill would set minimum safety standards for the industry in New York. It would allow safety certifications to be determined by industry-standard setting organizations like Underwriters Laboratories, the International Electrotechnical Commission, the American National Standards Institute, or the Society of Automotive & Aerospace Engineering.
Fines of up to $1,000 would be levied for more than one violation.
Lawmakers also want to end the usage of used lithium-ion batteries in electric bikes, electric scooters, or limited-use motorcycles. A $200 penalty would be levied for the first violation; a $1,000 fine after that.
“Reconditioned and untested batteries are contributing to a serious threat to the health and safety of New Yorkers in their homes and in their jobs, whether it's delivery workers trying to make a living, or residential tenants living next to a fly-by-night charging business," Krueger said. "When a piece of equipment has the potential to cause so much damage, we simply cannot have a wild west approach without any oversight. Micromobility devices are here to stay, and their use is continuing to expand, so we must act quickly to ensure they are used in a responsible way that doesn't put other people at risk."
Lawmakers pointed to 25 fires so far this year caused by lithium-ion batteries and 216 fires attributed to the batteries last year.