Transportation accounts for about a third of all greenhouse gas emissions in New York—more than any other source. Electric vehicles (EV), which produce 60 to 85 percent fewer emissions than their gas-powered counterparts, are growing in popularity, with more than 20 auto manufacturers now offering hybrid and all-electric options. But adoption is slow. In September 2018, the number of electric vehicles in the US hit a record one million—just one percent of the total American driving fleet.
According to a recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the most pressing concern expressed by prospective EV buyers is the lack of public charging stations. To address this issue and to energize the market, Governor Cuomo has committed to a $4.2 million plan to install more high-speed charging stations along the New York State Thruway and set the goal of having 800,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025.
“While major strides have significantly reduced emissions in electric generation, emissions from the transportation sector have increased and are twice that of electricity production,” says Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corporation’s President and CEO Charles A. Freni. “The integration of electric vehicles is aligned with, and supports, New York State’s ambitious energy goals, as it will lower emissions, provide environmental benefits, and reduce transportation costs.”
With in-depth understanding of the electric distribution system, utilities such as Central Hudson are uniquely positioned to understand the challenges of the pending transition—and to develop the ideal solutions. “We have the experience complemented by strong relationships with the communities we serve,” said Freni. “This allows us to effectively identify the most appropriate sites to build and maintain electric vehicle charging stations, evaluate site-specific electrical needs, and offer data on operating costs and billing services.”
Central Hudson is working on multiple fronts to encourage the integration of electric vehicles into the daily lives of Mid-Hudson Valley residents. In October, the utility hosted its first Electric Vehicle Summit, through which the utility brought together experts in the field to provide education and information to municipal and large commercial customers about the many benefits of electric vehicles.
On the regulatory side, Central Hudson is partnering with other utilities and the New York Power Authority to seek a fast-charger incentive from the Public Service Commission. Central Hudson is also teaming up with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop a method for mapping suitable locations for charging infrastructure in the Hudson Valley and is partnering with local governments to assist in the planning and installation of EV equipment and infrastructure.
Internally, Central Hudson is investing in its own electric system to accommodate private charging, as well as also exploring innovative rate designs to encourage off-peak charging and solar production to offset the demand created by EVs. The energy company is also evaluating its own vehicle fleet to assess which vehicles are the best candidates for conversion to electric and then will share this information with other local fleet operators.
In addition to reducing emissions and improving sustainability, electric transportation offers a host of benefits, including increasing energy security and lowering operating costs. On average, switching to an electric vehicle saves drivers between 50 to 70 percent on energy costs.
“We recognize that New York has set an ambitious goal,” says Freni. “And we believe that by taking a leading role here in the Mid-Hudson Valley we will ultimately make a positive impact on our environment and create savings for our customers.”