Addressing Permitting Challenges for Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)

The growing number of solar power and wind turbine projects is driving demand for battery energy storage systems (BESS). The industry has learned that BESS installations are an excellent solution to help ensure uninterrupted power during grid outages and reduce utility bills by shifting load demand.

However, battery storage projects present their own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to the permitting and approval process. BESS installations must not only meet state building requirements, but local authorities like county or city planning departments also have their own permitting processes, with regulations, codes, and fire standards that can vary according to the locale.

Compounding this is the fact that many authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) often lack permitting experience and knowledge to support BESS construction projects.

Navigating the BESS permitting process

Blymyer has extensive experience with the BESS permitting process, from determining the goals and concerns of various stakeholders (client, investor, engineer and contractor) to preparing the final permit set to signing and sealing the deal.

“We need to know beforehand which local and national codes and standards must be adhered to for the design, installation and operation, including all of the AHJ’s specific concerns,” explains Stas Gorbis, Blymyer Director of Commercial and EV Operations. “Coordinating approvals and managing all the necessary documentation require a team that’s detail oriented and has extensive knowledge of what goes into every phase of a BESS project.”

Fire safety is an important focus

“It’s critical that we do our due diligence up front,” continues Gorbis. “For example, there are significant fire risks associated with BESS projects, and they require strict fire protection designs to meet AHJ requirements as well as to provide a safe final product to the client. In addition, BESS projects are required to meet NFPA 855 standards, which were released in 2023 and outline the specific requirements for mitigating the hazards associated with energy storage systems.”

Safety has always been a top priority for Blymyer, and to ensure all safety standards associated with fire hazards are met, the company works with a specialized fire protection engineering consultant for assistance with designing the fire alarm and/or suppression system of every BESS installation.

“We expect to see strong growth in our BESS practice over the next few years, as the number of solar and wind projects continue to increase,” adds Gorbis. “And while every BESS project has its own set of requirements, we believe we’ve become quite adept at managing the intricacies of permitting and approval.”