Legislators Push Bills to Combat Spate of Lithium-Ion Battery Fires

The two bills from Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and State Senator Liz Krueger would require that all lithium-ion batteries and chargers sold in New York meet accepted safety certification standards and would ban the sale of second-use lithium-ion batteries for e-bikes and e-scooters

Albany, NY – The number of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries has skyrocketed in recent years, with more than 25 fires so far in 2023 — more than four times the number of fires last year through February 24. This comes on the heels of 216 lithium-ion battery fires in 2022, which was itself a huge increase over previous years.

In response, State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz are teaming up to promote a pair of bills which would implement new regulations to help curtail the proliferation of low-quality lithium-ion batteries.

The first bill (A4938/S154A) would require all lithium-ion batteries and chargers to meet minimum industry safety standards in order to be legally sold in New York. The bill allows safety certifications to be determined by the Underwriters Laboratories, the International Electrotechnical Commission, the American National Standards Institute, or the Society of Automotive & Aerospace Engineering. Violations of the law would be subject to a $500 penalty for the first violation and a $1,000 penalty for subsequent violations.

The second bill (S157/bill number pending) would prohibit the sale of second-use lithium-ion batteries intended for use in a bicycle with electric assist, an electric scooter, or a limited use motorcycle. Violations of the law would be subject to a $200 penalty for the first violation and a $1,000 penalty for subsequent violations within two years. Violations would be counted by each individual battery.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “Lithium-ion batteries are increasingly ubiquitous in modern society, from rechargeable laptops and phones to e-bikes and electric cars. 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.”

State Senator Liz Krueger said: “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. 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. I am glad to see the City Council taking action on these issues, but they also must be addressed statewide.”