Updated: Mar. 26, 2024, 12:05 a.m. | Published: Mar. 25, 2024, 5:50 a.m.

By Jessica Jones-Gorman | jgorman@siadvance.com

Four of Staten Island’s elected officials recently banded together to raise concerns about a battery energy storage system slated for construction near the Outerbridge Crossing, submitting testimony to the New York City Economic Development Corporation to protest the facility proposed for Charleston. (Staten Island Advance/Jason Paderon)

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Four of Staten Island’s elected officials banded together to raise concerns about a battery energy storage system (BESS) slated for construction near the Outerbridge Crossing earlier this month, submitting testimony to the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to protest the $40 million facility proposed for Charleston.

“My colleagues and I are submitting this testimony on behalf of the numerous Staten Island residents who have contacted our offices to express concern and anger about the proposed battery energy storage systems…,” stated a letter penned by Councilmember Joseph Borelli (R-South Shore) and signed by Borough President Vito Fossella, State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-South Shore) and Assemblymember Michael Reilly (R-South Shore).

“Residents of Tottenville, Rossville and Great Kills — the communities upon which these battery facilities are being thrusted — have a right to question these findings and to be concerned,” the letter stated, referencing recent findings from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Inter-Agency Fire Safety Working Group, which stated that the air, water and soil were deemed safe after several BESS fires occurred across the state last spring and summer.

“This is eerily reminiscent of when former EPA Director Christine Todd Whitman infamously told many of these same families that the air [at] Ground Zero was perfectly safe to breathe,” Borelli continued in the letter.


The letter, which is addressed to Emily Marcus, executive director of the NYCEDC, was meant to be read during a Build NYC/NYCIDA board of directors meeting on March 12, at which testimony and/or comment was invited before the board executed “authorizing resolutions” — voting to offer financial assistance in the form of tax waivers and mortgage benefits to four such BESS projects throughout the city. But before the meeting began, it was announced that the Staten Island project had been removed from the agenda.

“Please note there has been a change to the board book and the Chickadee project on Staten Island will not be included in today’s vote,” Joseph Taecker-Wyss, a project manager for the EDC, said during the presentation, which was live-streamed on the organization’s website.

First reported by the Advance/SILive on March 4, the Chickadee project is being proposed for construction at 4838 Arthur Kill Rd., the site of the former Country Estate Kennels. Two battery energy storage systems with an estimated capacity of 4.9MW each, are being planned for the 15,910 square-foot parcel, as well as two solar canopy systems with an estimated solar power generation of 120 kilowatt hours per day. Project costs are estimated at $39,440,000, and the site is registered for development by Chickadee Clean Energy LLC, a subsidiary of NineDot Energy.

The EDC did not provide further comment about why the project was removed from the agenda, offering only that “the item is still being considered.”

NineDot Energy also refused comment, stating that company policy is not to comment on “specific governmental proceedings outside of the official agency/board commenting process.”

The other projects on the agenda — two located on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and another located on Casanova Street in the Bronx — sparked a conversation during the meeting about community outreach strategy and the high concentration of BESS in active commercial corridors. But all facilities were ultimately approved for funding by the board.


BESS siting has been a hot-button topic on Staten Island for the past year with Community Boards voting against their proximity to bakeries and storefronts. In one instance, an energy developer retracted plans to place batteries in a Bulls Head church parking lot.

And this is not the first time elected officials have condemned the construction of these facilities in residential and commercial zones: In January of 2023, Borough President Vito Fossella called for an immediate moratorium of approvals for BESS applications filed with the Department of Buildings near residential and commercial districts in the borough. And just last week, Fossella and Councilmember David Carr (R-Mid-Island) hosted a press conference, denouncing plans for another proposed BESS — this one reportedly slated for construction near a strip of businesses and adjacent to several residential homes on Victory Boulevard.

Both Borelli and Carr voted against Mayor Eric Adams’ “City of Yes for Carbon Neutrality” initiative in December, a bill which will usher in 17 new clean energy-focused zoning changes — one of which will make it easier to install battery energy storage infrastructure in residential neighborhoods.


“[We knew] there was going to be a deluge of these applications here on Staten Island,” Carr said at the press conference referenced above. “The state has very ambitious goals for having BESS’s [placed] across the state and in particular here on Staten Island. And unlike our sister boroughs, land is a little bit more affordable [here] and so we are more at risk to seeing these sites developed.”

But North Shore City Councilmember Kamillah Hanks (D-North Shore), Staten Island’s third voice in the City Council, voted in favor of the City of Yes initiative, stating that the legislation has broader benefits.

“The City of Yes legislation has broader benefits particularly, in addressing flood mitigation and resilience,” Hanks said in a statement. “Recent storms in areas like Port Richmond, West Brighton, and Clifton have emphasized the need for such measures to be addressed.

“We have had discussions with Con Edison representatives, and they have provided assurances regarding the safety and advanced features of these facilities,” Hanks continued. “The postponement of the vote last week to address concerns from Staten Island elected officials demonstrates a commitment to mitigating their impact. Our constituents’ safety and peace of mind are paramount and should be carefully considered.”