Wednesday, January 22, 2020

State Releases Ambitious Electric Vehicle Charging Station Plan

Rick Gorleski of PlugIn Stations Online installs an electric vehicle charging station at the Hotel SaranacThis week, the New York Department of Public Service released a “make ready” incentive plan for utilities to spend more than a half-billion dollars in workplace and public electric vehicle charging stations.

This new proposal comes after more than a year of advocacy from a coalition of automakers, bus manufacturers, EV charging service providers, labor groups, business associations, environmental justice organizations, environmental NGOs, and other organizations.

The report issued this week (and available here) recommends that the Public Service Commission direct the State’s major electric utilities to build the grid infrastructure needed to enable installation of publicly accessible EV charging stations, one of a number of actions proposed to promote zero-emission vehicle adoption.

The Sierra Club, which supports the plan, highlighted requirements directed to aid disadvantaged communities. Under the plan utilities would cover about 90% of the cost of 79,000 workplace charging stations, over 49,000 public Level 2 stations and 3,287 DC Fast charging stations.

Transportation is New York’s leading source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, making up about 37% of the total.  The state has a goal of having 850,000 zero-emission vehicles on the road within five years. Just last week, the New Jersey Legislature passed significant legislation to electrify the state’s transportation sector.

The first EV charging station in the Adirondacks was located in Lake George. In 2014, when the Wild Center installed the first charging stations in the interior of the Adirondack Park, there were already stations up and running in Canton, Potsdam, Plattsburgh. Since then, more the three dozen have been installed [map].

What follows is a summary of the “Make Ready” program provided by the Governor’s office:


The Commission has already approved initiatives to encourage the zero emission’s market, including residential time-of-use rates for EV charging and annual per-plug incentives to buy down the cost of installing publicly accessible direct current fast charger stations. The Commission has also approved a number of EV demonstration and pilot projects, and the utilities have developed the framework needed to rollout EVs.

The ‘Make-Ready’ Program would run through 2025 to coincide with New York’s goal of deploying 850,000 zero-emission vehicles by the end of that year. The program will improve EV economics for developers by covering up to 90 percent of the costs to make-ready a site for EV charging. The report also proposes that the utilities be required to incorporate EV charging scenarios into their annual capital planning processes to encourage thoughtful siting of charging infrastructure. This proposal will encourage accelerated, forward-thinking development of charging infrastructure that is estimated to provide New Yorkers with over $2.6 billion in net benefits and supports the achievement of the State’s transportation electrification and clean energy goals.

Thoughtful siting of charging infrastructure will support reduced installation costs, improved site host acceptance and maximized use from drivers. An EV charging infrastructure forecast would require electric utilities to identify locations suitable for electric vehicle supply equipment and infrastructure siting, and to proactively educate developers on synergistic cost-saving opportunities. The report recommends that the utilities establish a common suitability criterion to identify potential public charging sites, with the objective of maximizing public charging utilization to ensure efficient use of customer funds invested and provide fair and equitable access and benefit to all utility customers, including those in disadvantaged communities.

As EV prices come down and more EVs come to the market, it will be appropriate to develop more charging infrastructure in environmental justice communities – who have been disproportionately impacted by air pollution — and rural neighborhoods. Additionally, communities with low vehicle ownership rates, which are disproportionately impacted by air pollutants due to their proximity to heavily trafficked roads and highways, will benefit from a greater share of EVs on the roads. New York State has a number of initiatives to support medium and heavy-duty vehicle electrification underway, including bus fleets, which provide additional access to EVs and improved air quality for many disadvantaged communities.

Fast-charger EV stations developed in the first year of the “Make-Ready” Program are expected to have positive financial returns for all regions and site configurations, except for the larger 150 kW stations located in Upstate New York. Given publicly visible and accessible infrastructure’s vital role in assuaging range anxiety, the report recommends that each region in Upstate New York be eligible for additional incentives to make four or more fast charging locations available in every region.

The EVolve NY initiative, administered by the New York Power Authority, has committed $250 million to expand public fast charging along key transit corridors, creating new charging hubs in major cities and airports, and establishing electric vehicle-friendly model communities that will encourage residents to transition to driving electric vehicles.

The additional infrastructure will complement the goals of the State’s Drive Clean Rebate initiative, a $70 million plug-in hybrid and electric car rebate and outreach initiative to encourage the growth of clean and non-polluting car use in New York, promote the reduction of carbon emissions in the transportation sector and help reduce vehicle prices for consumers. Of this, $55 million is dedicated to rebates of up to $2,000 for the purchase of a new plug-in hybrid electric car, all-electric car or hydrogen fuel cell car. The remaining $15 million is to support improving consumer awareness of electric cars and their many benefits, installing more charging stations across the state, developing and demonstrating new electric car-enabling technologies and other efforts to put more electric cars on New York’s roadways.

Since it was launched, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which administers the initiative, has approved more than $29 million in rebates for New Yorkers who purchased or leased 45 different types of cars. Overall, most people received rebates of $1,100 or more for their new electric cars.

News Yorkers in each county of the state received rebates. Approximately 33 percent of the approved rebates were received by Long Island consumers, followed by drivers in the Mid-Hudson region. Below is a complete breakdown of rebate applications by region.

breakdown of rebate applications by region

The Make Ready program supports the Governor’s recent State-of-the-State announcement on electric vehicles calling on NYPA to install 10 or more fast-charging locations in every Regional Economic Development Council region by the end of 2022. The Governor’s EV policy also calls for every travel plaza on the New York State Thruway to have charging stations installed by NYPA by the end of 2024 and for at least 800 new chargers to be installed over the next five years.

The recommendations in the report also build on New York’s successful EV expansion efforts through Governor Cuomo’s Charge NY initiative, which set and exceeded its ambitious goals of 30,000 EVs and 3,000 EV charging stations by the end of 2018. More than 45,000 electric vehicles have been purchased in New York since 2013 — more than 48 other states — and New York has installed roughly 4,000 charging stations during the same period.

New York has ambitious climate change mitigation policies that are reflected in the adoption of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). The CLCPA establishes the State goal of economy-wide net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as well as a reduction of GHG emissions from all anthropogenic sources by at least 85 percent over 1990 levels by the year 2050, with an interim target of at least a 40 percent reduction by the year 2030. The CLCPA requires both substantial emissions reductions and complementary adaptation measures to address the severe impacts of climate change, including transportation electrification as a mitigation measure to harness substantial emissions reductions. New York’s transportation sector is responsible for more of the State’s carbon dioxide emissions than any other sector, and these emissions are growing.

Rick Gorleski of PlugIn Stations Online installs an electric vehicle charging station at the Hotel Saranac in 2019 (provided).

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13 Responses

  1. Dan says:

    This is HUGE. PlugShare reports there are currently 4,136 public charging stations in New York –

  2. Harv Sibley says:

    question from an uninformed reader: I like the idea of elec cars and particularly elec commercial vehicles and trucks. But in the midst of winter, how does the charge hold? I know one thing: my iPhone can lose battery power FAST when I am outside and its below 30.

    Just curious.


    • Dana says:

      I would like to know how well the heaters work! As internal combustion engines become smaller and more efficient, the heaters really struggle up here.


      Winter results in a 25% reduction in my electric range. No big deal at all.

  3. filla says:

    nice informative article

  4. Pat B says:

    Here’s a link to a 5 year old article published here in the Almanack about a a Chevy Volt in north country winter conditions.

  5. Tim says:

    It’s a start. But there is not a single fast DC chargers in the ADK.

  6. Dave Ritchie says:

    In January 2019 the DEC adopted its final “Amendment to the Generic Unit Management Plan for Campgrounds and Day-Use Areas (Electric Vehicle Charging Stations)” to allow for installing level-1 and level-2 charging stations at DEC facilities in the Adirondack & Catskill Parks. Several of us made substantive comments in fall 2018 when the proposed plan was sent out, calling for:
    (a) NOT installing any level-1 (120v outlets) in favor of adding more level-2 chargers AND adding strategically placed level-3 DC fast chargers at “gateway” locations and deep “interior” locations of the Parks;
    (b) allowing upgrading the electric service of certain designated DEC facilities to allow level-3 fast chargers (the amendment requires that the electric service _not_ require upgrading for charger placement); and
    (c) adding “gateway location” and deep “interior location” and “public relations value” to the criteria to determine placement of charging stations, not just using historic visitor stats and “nearness” to other EV charging stations (which include level-1 120v outlets on the walls of convenient stores and motels!) as their only siting criteria.
    NONE of these recommendations were adopted in the final Amendment wording, which was the same as the draft Amendment wording.

    Further, in a phone call to the DEC in mid 2019 to ask about implementation, the DEC official I talked to said that there was “no money” in the proposed budget for installing any EV chargers at any DEC facilities that year, but pointed out the level-2 EV charging stations at the new DEC campground at the former Frontier Town, off I-87 Exit 29, as an example of the type of facility that they would eventually be putting in.

    I visited and used that new Frontier Town CG level-2 charging station in August 2019 to charge my electric car, successfully talking my way out of having to pay a day-use charge that day, but it looks like anyone just wanting to charge their EV will have to pay a day-use charge and maybe a charging fee as well! The generic DEC list of fees includes an “amenity fee” of +$10/night for use of an electric charging station (on top of the nightly camping fee), but there is no listing of a day-use fee or a daytime charge for the electric charging station, or which DEC facilities currently have EV charging stations operating.

  7. Zephyr says:

    Until there are lots of charging stations I would be very wary of using an all-electric car in the north country. Around where I live there are very few chargers, and they are often occupied or broken so it is a real crapshoot whether or not you can actually charge up when you get there. I picture a busy Columbus Day weekend in the High Peaks with waiting lines extending off into the distance while people freeze in unheated electric cars.

    • Pete Nelson says:

      I’ve been using an all-electric car for two years in the North Country, 65,000 miles logged, and I never have any issue. Why would I, with a range of >200 miles even in winter? I just plug in at night and am ready to go the next day, no time wasted or stress about fuel stops at all.

      However I do save a huge amount of money in fuel and maintenance costs, to the tune of thousands of dollars and many hours of time per year over drivers of gas cars. The idea that there is some problem or huge risk with electric cars in the North Country is a myth. I hope more people will learn about them, take a test drive and start saving a lot of money while cutting carbon emissions to zero.

      Also, I wrote the Volt article referenced in the comments above. The next generation of EVs, such as my Bolt, is much more efficient with heating, so the article is out of date. I heat whenever and as much as I want. Yes, it drops range (just as winter range drops in a gas car), but not so much that I care, and in my work I drive up to 150 miles per day. With a Bolt, Tesla, Hyundai, Kia Kona, or other high-range EV it’s just not an issue for working and driving here.

      Prices are great now, for example I hear there are discounts of up to $14,000 off Bolts, putting them in the purchase range of any “comparable” gas car. But no gas car on the planet is going to allow you to drive as much as I do for an average monthly maintenance and fuel cost like mine, which is about $35.00. The EV is much cheaper to own! Try one!

      • Zephyr says:

        Sure, you live close to trailheads, but those who live say 200 miles away will have a tough time trying to charge up in the High Peaks on a busy weekend, winter or summer. I have personally observed every single charging station occupied on major highways, and as far as I know there are very few along the major routes to the Adks. I can’t install a charger at my home, since it is a rental, and the landlord has no interest in adding the option. Even so, the Adks is more than 250 miles away for me and a good portion of the visitors to the area.

        • Zephyr says:

          By the way, I am very enthusiastic about electric cars, and I can see how they make great sense for a lot of people. I’m looking forward to owning one some day. But, right now for many of us who participate in outdoor recreation far from most charging infrastructure they just don’t make sense. Cost is a factor too. I’m currently driving a car bought for $2000 that gets 36-38 mpg on the highway, which gives me a range of over 400 miles before needing a 10-minute fill up. I’ll drive it into the ground and then get another one. My total cost for the vehicle is less than many people pay in sales tax on their expensive new vehicles.

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