Electric vehicles get a boost in several states


New York has announced it will be bringing electric vehicle charging stations to locales both up and downstate. Washington is also trying to make certain parking spaces off-limits unless you have an electric vehicle, announcing a new fine for non-electric cars parked in electric spots. And Route 66 is scheduled to have an electric car “cruise in,” later this year. Taken together, the efforts are a leading indicator that states are trying to find ways to increase adoption of electric vehicles.

New York will be installing some 60 electric vehicle (EV) and plug-in hybrid charging stations this year. Charge NY, unveiled by Governor Cuomo during his State of the State address earlier this year, is an initiative to create a statewide network of up to 3,000 public and workplace charging stations over the next five years and to put up to 40,000 plug-in vehicles on the road during that period. This initiative is being spearheaded by both the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Neighboring Connecticut first started offering Nissan’s electric car the Leaf in 2011. In 2010, Washington State announced it would build the nation’s first electric highway. Since then, electric cars have seen mixed support from state and local governments. However, some change appears to be underway.

As CivSource previously reported, 21 states came together last year to discuss how to bring renewables to state fleet vehicles. That initiative was supported by America’s Natural Gas Alliance which is pushing natural gas-powered vehicles, in light of the upsurge in cheap, domestic natural gas. At the federal level, the Department of Energy announced that it would be investing in electric vehicles and started doing so last year. Electric car makers themselves are also working on ways to make electric cars more palatable through the use of new fast charging stations and battery packs that can last for 60-80 miles.

Following its announcement, New York released an RFP for the installation of 100 electric vehicle charging stations equipped with smart charging capabilities to reduce EV charging demand on the electric grid at periods of peak demand. The charging stations will be located at 36 convenient locations, including transportation hubs, and other public and private parking lots, primarily in the Metropolitan New York City area and are expected to be in operation by 2014. Copies of the RFP can be found at http://www.nypa.gov/Procurement/Default.aspx.

In addition, NYSERDA has awarded $3.6 million to 14 organizations to install more than 260 electric vehicle charging stations across the state, from Long Island to Buffalo. Most stations will be dual charging stations, with the ability to accommodate two vehicles at once. This announcement is the second round of funding supported by NYSERDA for the installation of EV charging stations. Last June, Governor Cuomo announced awards of $4.4 million through NYSERDA to fund 325 charging stations around the state including those just announced by NYPA. The charging stations will go to locations including residential parking lots, private sector fleet vehicle centers, and some state and municipal fleet vehicle centers.

Through his Charge NY program, the Governor has proposed investing $50 million over the next five years to stimulate demand for EVs and investments in infrastructure, including funding from NYSERDA, NYPA and tax credits. In addition, the Governor has called for increasing the State’s EV readiness through reforming regulations to facilitate EV charging, utility rate incentives, educating consumers about EVs, and demonstrating advanced EV technologies.

Washington state which is a big supporter of electric vehicles has also announced that it will be charging a pretty steep fee for drivers of non-electric cars who take up electric car parking and charging spots. A new bill that just passed in the House there will create a $124 fee for parking in the wrong spot. The bill had previously passed the Senate and will now go to the Governor for signature.

Route 66, a highway popularized in song, is now poised to support the electric car revolution itself, with a first annual electric car cruise-in scheduled on the highway in June. According to the Bloomington Pantagraph electric car supporters are reviving a tradition once reserved for classic cars in an effort to draw out support for electric vehicles.

“It should be a lot of fun and should draw attention to the goal of creating more charging stations along the Route 66 corridor,” Joe Mikulecky, chairman of the Bloomington-Normal EVTown Task Force told the paper.