Albany electrifies municipal ZEV efforts

In charge: A new rebate program focused on zero-emission vehicles will help New York stay at the top of the ZEV heap.
 By GREGORY ZELLER //

Albany is opening its pocketbook to municipalities building new electric-vehicle infrastructure.

The governor’s office announced this week that $3 million in funding is available for New York cities, towns, villages and counties leasing or purchasing battery-electric, hydrogen-powered and other zero-emission vehicles.

Financial help is also available for municipalities installing new zero-emission infrastructure, such as electric charging stations.

Funding will come in the form of rebates provided through the $300 million New York Environmental Protection Fund investment included in the state’s 2016-17 budget agreement, with the rebate program administered by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The rebates will “help reduce our carbon footprint by creating climate-resilient communities,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a release announcing the funding program. They’re also an important step toward meeting the Empire State’s commitments under the Multi-State ZEV Memorandum of Understanding, which is looking to put over 3 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads of eight participating states – including New York and Connecticut – by 2012.

“New York is a leader in the fight to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change,” Cuomo noted. “This funding … is another step toward a cleaner, greener and more sustainable New York.”

Municipalities will be eligible for reimbursements of up to $5,000 per purchased or leased vehicle meeting “clean” standards, with vehicles acquired after April 1 of this year qualifying for the application process. Different rebate levels will be made available depending on the mileage range of each eligible vehicle.

Local governments can also apply for up to $250,000 per installation of eligible Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment or hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure, the release noted.

A total of $750,000 is being made available for clean-vehicle rebates, while $1.25 million has been reserved for EVSE equipment infrastructure. Another $1 million is earmarked for hydrogen fuel cell infrastructure.

Municipalities will be required to make a matching 20 percent investment to qualify for infrastructure rebates. The DEC will accept infrastructure and vehicular rebate applications through March 31, 2017, “or until the funds are exhausted,” according to the governor’s office.

John Rhodes: Aggressive pursuit.

John Rhodes: Aggressive pursuit.

While helping the state live up to its Multi-State ZEV obligations, the new rebate program also supports Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy, which aims to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

“With this funding, (New York) municipalities can lead the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector,” New York State Research and Development Authority President John Rhodes said in a statement. “New York is aggressively pursuing initiatives like the zero-emission vehicle rebate program that will address climate change and protect the environment for generations to come.”

Long Island is no stranger to ZEV initiatives. In 2010, Stony Brook University acquired a bus from the Long Island Power Authority featuring a diesel/electric hybrid drivetrain, capable of operating in hybrid mode – a small diesel engine recharges the vehicle’s battery when it’s running low – or all-electric mode.

The university also offers 10 electric-vehicle stations around its Suffolk County campus, charging students, faculty, staff and visitors $1 per hour to juice up.

In May, Hofstra University unveiled its third electric-vehicle charging station, accessible by staff and students through permits issued by Hofstra’s Department of Public Safety.

In 2014, nine Suffolk County municipalities received a $625,000 grant from the New York State Regional Economic Development Council for a feasibility study exploring the joint construction of more than 30 charging stations along the Long Island Expressway. While construction of those stations is yet to commence, zero- and low-emissions vehicles have long been permitted to use the LIE’s High Occupancy Vehicle lane, which is otherwise reserved for motorcycles and standard-power vehicles with a minimum of two passengers.

This summer, Brookhaven National Laboratory announced it was lending some cutting-edge science to the national Battery500 Consortium, which is designed to create the next generation of electric-vehicle batteries.

And the Musk Foundation, the charitable arm of billionaire industrialist Elon Musk’s vast empire, has promised to install an electric-vehicle charging station on the grounds of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, once plans for the refurbished Shoreham campus are finalized.

According to the website Plugshare.com, which offers customized maps showing electric-vehicle operators where they can power up, Long Island is now home to dozens of public charging stations, with publicly accessible stations now available as far east as Montauk.


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