July 14th, 2018 by Carolyn Fortuna
What kind of infrastructure is needed for a municipality to become the state’s first Electric Vehicle (EV) model county? Tompkins County has achieved that goal by installing 11 new EV charging stations as part of New York State’s Electric Vehicle Accelerator initiative, a pilot project to help municipalities become models for EV use. Each clean energy step of each municipality is part of a larger picture that supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s ambitious goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40% by 2030.
New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) administers the Electric Vehicle Accelerator initiative, which was created to help municipalities build EV ecosystems. Tompkins County has partnered with local organizations and businesses as part of the EV charging stations project. Now that the installations are complete, Tompkins County moves into the next phase of the pilot to disseminate information about EVs at local events, host ride and drives, and meet with officials from municipalities to discuss EV friendly policies.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Emissions from the transportation sector are New York’s largest source of climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions. The state’s innovative Electric Vehicle Accelerator initiative complements Governor Cuomo’s comprehensive investments in clean vehicles and infrastructure, including municipal rebates that are putting put more electric vehicles on the road and charging stations in communities across the state. These actions bolster Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading goals to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ramp up renewable energy sources.”
In addition, Tompkins County, the city of Ithaca and the town of Ithaca are three of the State’s 18 certified Climate Smart Communities. DEC-certified Climate Smart Communities are recognized for leadership in reducing emissions and protecting their communities from a changing climate. The 18 Certified Climate Smart Communities represent New York’s foremost leaders in local climate action.
EV Charging Stations Key to Mass EV Adoption
The transportation sector is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in New York State. Compared to gasoline-powered cars, electric cars are more energy efficient and cost about 50 to 70% less to operate per mile. To make EVs more affordable and accessible, Governor Cuomo launched the state’s Drive Clean Rebate program in March, 2017. Administered by NYSERDA, the program provides residents with a rebate of up to $2,000 for the purchase or lease of a new plug-in hybrid or battery electric car from participating new car dealers. Combined with a Federal Tax Credit of up to $7,500, the Rebate lured more than 10,000 EV buyers in 2017, which represents a 67% increase over 2016.
In the past year, the state has also provided incentives for employers to encourage employees to drive EVs. To encourage fleet adoption, they’ve made $2.2 million available from the Environmental Protection Fund in the form of rebates for municipalities which can be used to purchase or lease plug-in hybrid electric, battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for municipal fleet use. In addition to the EV charging stations that have already been installed in public areas, the funds can be used install more public chargers or fuel cell refueling infrastructure.
To further these clean energy efforts, Governor Cuomo unveiled in May a $250 million electric vehicle expansion initiative with NYPA – known as EVolve NY – that will seek to create public-private sector partnerships to more aggressively accelerate the adoption of EVs throughout New York State. An initial $40 million will go toward installing fast chargers along key interstate corridors, creating new New York City airport charging hubs, and establishing more EV friendly model communities to encourage residents to transition to driving EVs.
Recently, the Governor announced a $4.2 million expansion plan to install more high-speed EV charging stations along the New York State Thruway. The plan will allow electric car owners to drive the length of the state without having to exit to recharge. As of December 31, 2017, there were more than 2,200 charging stations installed statewide.
Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “With every new electric vehicle charging station installed, New Yorkers are finding it easier than ever to drive clean and drive electric. I congratulate Tompkins County for being a leader in making electric vehicles a cornerstone of their efforts to fight climate change and commend the County for joining Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions across New York.”
NYSERDA, the New York Power Authority, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Thruway Authority, the Department of Transportation, and New York State Office of Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation, along with other state agency and private partners, are working together to implement infrastructure improvements and consumer-focused programs to help more New Yorkers drive zero-emission vehicles.
“With the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, State Parks are committed to making our state parks more sustainable and efficient by modernizing our facilities across the state and reducing our greenhouse emissions,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “I applaud Tompkins County for taking on this electric vehicle initiative and continuing the momentum of Governor Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy goals.” The state already has unprecedented commitments to advance clean energy technologies, including offshore wind, solar, energy storage and energy efficiency, which will spur market development and create jobs across the state.
Gil C. Quiniones, New York Power Authority (NYPA) president and CEO said, “New York has a long history of delivering EV initiatives and infrastructure throughout the state to make driving electric more accessible and affordable. Our coordinated, across-the-state efforts to significantly expand charging options will help to encourage more residents to make the switch to zero-emission vehicles. Infrastructure enhancements, consumer incentives and EV education will all play a part in helping more New Yorkers drive clean.”
On January 3, 2018, Cuomo pledged to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by growing the clean energy economy. The pledge begins by putting customers first with a focus on energy efficiency, the increased use of renewables, and more resilient, distributed energy resources at the core of the energy system.
Reforming the Energy Vision 2030 (REV) is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s comprehensive energy strategy for New York. REV 2030 helps consumers make more informed energy choices, develop new energy products and services, and protect the environment while creating new jobs and economic opportunity throughout the state. Program goals include a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, sourcing 50% of electricity from renewables, and a 600 trillion BTU increase in statewide energy efficiency (at source).
The state of New York’s clean energy goals are supported in part by its NY-Sun Initiative, which has a budget of $1 billion and has boosted the amount of installed solar in New York ten-fold since 2011.