Letter: Yet Another Fire Involving Proposed Batteries for Hickory Ridge Solar and Shutesbury Road Solar


Battery fire at a power substation south of Melba, Idaho. Photo: YouTube

It is important that Amherst residents know that there has been yet another battery fire involving Powin 750 Centipede batteries, the same batteries proposed for installation at Hickory Ridge and Shutesbury Road. The fire spread between at least 8 separate units at a facility in Idaho in early October and burned for several days. The batteries were brand new. News coverage of this fire can be seen here and here.

At the October 12 Amherst ZBA meeting PureSky announced they are reducing the number of batteries at the proposed Shutesbury Road Solar by 56 percent, supposedly to reduce β€œcapital costs.”  They have reduced the units from 27 to 12. They still plan to use the fire-prone Powin 750 Centipede batteries. PureSky also plans to use the same batteries at Hickory Ridge when construction finally resumes. They also claimed that Powin was close to revealing why the Warwick New York batteries burst into flames this summer.  PureSKY did NOT mention the Idaho battery fires at the October 12 ZBA meeting in Amherst.

Another meeting was taking place at the same time on October 12 in Duannesburg, New York where a different spokesperson from PureSky was explaining what had caused 2000 solar panels to crash to the ground at the Oak Hill One and Two project that had been under construction until last December. They had just started cleaning up the mess in August, nine months later! More on that disaster some other time.

After reassuring the Duannesburg town leaders that everything was under control and that safety was their highest concern, they began to talk about the batteries they would be using at Oak Hill. PureSky emphasized they would not be using the Powin 750 Centipede batteries, but a different model of Powin battery they described as safer.

I have also provided a link to the October 12th Duannesburg Town Board meeting where PureSky makes it clear that the company is aware of the issues with the Powin 750 Centipede batteries, but still hopes to use them at some site in MASSACHUSETTS.  I apologize in advance for the sound quality of the meeting, but it is worth a listen.

When will town of Amherst officials protect us from potential disaster by insisting these fire prone batteries are not used anywhere in town?

Michael Lipinsky

Michael Lipinsky is a resident of Amherst and a member of Smart Solar Amherst.

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