Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 2, 2014

GLYNN: Electric cars may prove tough sell in upstate NY

Niagara Gazette — It seems like only yesterday when Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged lawmakers and residents across the Empire State to think more about relying on clean energy. In fact, that message was part of his 2013 State of the State address. He dubbed it the “Charge New York” program.

To date it hasn’t caught on, as he had hoped, for a number of reasons. While charging stations have already been installed at various sites, there’s hardly any rush to use them. 

In a recent report for “New York Now,” the weekly PBS show focusing on Capitol Hill, Jenna Flanagan noted there are about 10 stations in Albany where drivers can charge up their electric vehicle battery. She thought that it appeared an unusual place (Albany) for the clean energy revolution to take off. 

As it has been explained, the typical home outlet has a capacity for 110 volts of electricity. If that’s where you charge your vehicle, you’ll probably end up with five miles of electricity for every hour of charging. Meanwhile, those charging stations you find in your travels should get you nearly 20 miles for each hour you charge. 

It’s actually surprising how many of those stations are already installed. One is located in the main parking lot at the Niagara Falls State Park, near the toll booth at the entrance. You can find the closest one to your own residence by visiting chargepoint.com

Under the plan, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has joined forces with a variety of organizations to assist with installing the stations. National Grid and ChargePoint, a private company, have played major roles in producing the stations. The overall plan is to install some 3,000 public and workplace stations around the state within the next five years.

Right now, however, one of the biggest challenges in convincing consumers to rely on electric vehicles is the weather. There are days, as we all know, when single-digit temperatures will simply zap a lot of the energy out of the battery. Also, with the battery unable to store as much energy under those conditions, the range goes down sharply, according to the chairman of an automotive technologies department at a downstate community college. 

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