October 16, 2021

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Schenectady, a ‘destination’ for electric vehicle owners, holds EV fair

SCHENECTADY — More than 30 electric vehicles were displayed near city charging stations during a fair that plugged the city becoming a destination for EVs.

The Drive Electric Week’s Electric Vehicle Fair on Sunday outside City Hall was a partnership of the Capital District EV Drivers Group, Schenectady Greenmarket, Livingston Energy Group — the company that installs the city’s charging stations — the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and National Grid.

During the event, Mayor Gary McCarthy touted the city’s 28 free-of-use charging stations, part of more than 60 charging stations available in Schenectady.

McCarthy also joined the city in National Drive Electric Week from Sept. 25 to Oct. 3.

McCarthy read a proclamation that aimed to raise awareness of the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars, trucks and motorcycles, then handed the citation to 17-year-old William Kruk, the youngest member of the Capital District EV Drivers Group, somewhat of an underground group of enthusiasts.

More than anything else, Kruk said he likes driving his father’s Chevy Bolt because he doesn’t have to pay for gas.

“I’m a teenager and I don’t have money, and charging it at municipal places (for free) is better for my pocketbook and I like that. Yes, it’s good for the environment and whatnot, but I make minimum wage,” said Kruk, a lifeguard and senior at Schalmont High School.

Kruk said he hopes to someday purchase a Chevy Spark, one of more than 60 EV models on the market, for his first car.

Most of the displayed EVs were privately owned by people wanting to promote electric vehicles. Three of the cars, Chevy Volts, were owned by the city. In all, the city has eight electric vehicles that are used by code enforcement.

The city is awaiting shipment of Chevy Bolts for the Police Department. Its patrol units will start using hybrid interceptor vehicles.

“We’re just so thankful that we can be a leader in this transition that’s happening for environmental sustainability as we move away from internal combustion engines and take advantage of the emerging technology and manufacturing of electric vehicles,” McCarthy said.

Schenectady previously hosted a Drive Electric Week with NYSERDA in 2017, and the city has since been designated a clean energy community by NYSERDA for clean energy leadership.

“From our expanding network of advanced LED streetlights and our partnership with National Grid to our municipal solar arrays and shared partnership with Schenectady County, we’re committed to building a more sustainable future,” McCarthy said.

The city’s investments in electric vehicle growth wouldn’t have been possible without its partners at the state level: NYSERDA, National Grid, and Livingston Energy, a Schenectady-based company that installed the charging stations.

Adam Ruder, assistant director of clean transportation with NYSERDA, said the agency was proud to have worked with Schenectady, Livingston Energy and others to install EV charging stations in Schenectady and across the state.

Ruder called EV driving the “best, cleanest car experience,” and he noted that under Gov. Kathy Hochul’s leadership, New York state was rapidly building out its EV infrastructure to boost access to electric vehicles.

The state is focused on ramping up electrification of transportation, from its more than 7,000 EV charging installations, public transportation, to all the different elements of the transportation system, Ruder said.

Earlier this month, Hochul signed legislation requiring all new passenger vehicles and off-road vehicles and equipment sold in New York state to be zero-emission by 2035, with new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to be all electric by 2045.

The state is also offering rebates for EVs and electric trucks and buses, and tax credits for EV charging stations. It offers up to $2,000 off the purchase or lease of a new EV, and more than 43,000 New Yorkers have taken advantage of this program, Ruder said.

The state is also in the process of helping transit agencies electrify. The Capital District Transportation Authority has a number of new electric buses with more on order. National Grid and the other utilities are spending $700 million on EV charging stations and EV charging infrastructure during the next few years, and there’s a tax credit from New York state of up to $5,000 to help businesses install their own charging stations.

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