Electric Vehicles

NYPA board OKs funding for EVs, smart LED street lights

The New York Power Authority Board of Trustees on Jan. 30 approved $3 million in funding to continue a zero-interest loan program that helps dozens of municipalities and rural electricity cooperatives buy electric vehicles and battery charging equipment for their fleets.

The funding builds on $8 million dedicated since 2003 for the Authority’s Municipal and Rural Cooperative Electric Utilities Electric-Drive Vehicle Program, which provides financial assistance to facilitate the replacement of less fuel-efficient vehicles, NYPA said on Feb. 4.

The initiative supports New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New York 40 percent by 2030 and make New York 100 percent carbon-neutral by 2040 as part of his recently announced Green New Deal, NYPA said.

“NYPA has created an effective program that has successfully integrated dozens of electric vehicles and hybrids into municipal fleets,” said Gil Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “This additional funding will allow us to continue these clean energy partnerships as part of our expanding effort to encourage EV use and lead infrastructure expansion across New York State.”

NYPA said it is continuing to play a pivotal role in moving the electric transportation sector forward. The $250 million EVolve NY program will address key barriers to EV expansion and look for private/public partnerships to develop EV infrastructure and services. Plans include installing fast-charging stations along key interstate corridors – with a target interval of every 30 miles – and in select urban hubs.

For the Electric-Drive Vehicle Program, municipalities and rural electric cooperative utilities apply to the Power Authority for zero-interest financing to purchase passenger vehicles, pickup trucks, off-road specialty vehicles and heavy-duty utility bucket trucks. The vehicles are used by the utilities’ personnel and/or their affiliated municipal agencies to carry out their functions. 

“Municipalities benefit from zero-interest financing, reduced fuel costs and lower maintenance expenses, and can pass those savings on to ratepayers. The use of electric fleet vehicles also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and contributes to a safer work environment for electric utility staff due to diesel engine noise reduction,” NYPA said.

The 47 municipalities and four rural electric cooperative utility systems that receive low-cost hydropower from NYPA are eligible to participate. The funds are recovered from participants over a period of up to three years through a surcharge to their electric bills.

Since 2003, 73 clean-technology vehicles have been placed with 24 towns and villages across the state, the Authority noted.

NYPA also provides these communities with an array of energy-efficiency services and has helped install electric vehicle charging infrastructure for the public in support of Cuomo’s Charge NY 2.0 initiative, an effort aimed at installing 10,000 charging stations by 2021.

Board also approves funding for smart LED street lights

Meanwhile, the NYPA board on Jan. 30 also approved $7.5 million in funding that will be made available to municipalities across the state for the installation of new smart LED street lights as part of Cuomo’s Smart Street Lighting NY program.

Municipalities can apply for up to $500,000 in funding as part of their partnership with NYPA on the installation of smart LED street lighting.

Smart LED street lights are equipped with improved internet connectivity and other digital enhancements that will allow municipalities to improve public services such as internet connectivity, transportation, public health and safety.

The largest cities outside of New York City -- Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers -- are eligible for $2.5 million, with the other $5 million earmarked for other municipalities. Awards will vary depending on the municipality's needs and the scale of the proposed project. 

The City of Syracuse, designated by NYPA as New York State's flagship smart city, will be the first large municipality in New York to test the innovative new streetlight technologies.

Syracuse plans to evaluate the installation of equipment that can expand Wi-Fi, and 4G and 5G internet connection capabilities on its streetlights, and to install other digital enhancements to city-wide services, with $500,000 of support from NYPA, the first award from the $7.5 million statewide program.

Smart Street Lighting NY calls for at least 500,000 street lights throughout the state to be replaced with energy-saving LED technology by 2025. These streetlight upgrades support New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels.  

NYPA is working with cities, towns, villages and counties in New York to fully manage and implement a customer's transition to LED technology. NYPA provides upfront financing for projects, with repayments made to NYPA from the resulting cost savings created by the reduced energy use of LEDs.

"Helping our customers bring their streetlights into the future further advances NYPA's reputation as a first-mover in the energy-sector,” said Quiniones. “NYPA has already installed thousands of new LED street lights with hundreds of thousands of additional lighting fixtures already in the pipeline." 

More information about Smart Street Lighting NY is available here.