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Albany Parking Authority Installing Electric Chargers In Garages

Officials gathered on top of the Riverfront Garage in downtown Albany Tuesday morning to unveil new electric car-charging stations.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
NYPA's Director of eMobility Technology and Engineering John Markowitz looks on as Mayor Kathy Sheehan connects a car to an electric charger at Riverfront Garage.

Eleven new EV charging stations are now available for public use in all three Albany Parking Authority garages downtown. Authority Executive Director Matthew Peter says the new additions continue efforts to be environmentally conscious and innovative.   "The total cost of these charging stations was $314,000, which was funded through grants, including Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Five Cities race-to-the-top clean energy program and other initiatives from NYSERDA. These charging stations are a continuation of our green initiatives last year, where new parking meters were installed with solar panels and the installation of LED lighting throughout our garages."

The New York Power Authority has installed a total of 19 level 2 chargers in the Riverfront, Green-Hudson and Quackenbush garages.

"To make sure that we have an infrastructure in place to allow people to have electric vehicles is really important." ~ Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the city has been raising the bar by setting new goals for reducing energy consumption and minimizing its carbon footprint.   "A goal of 20 percent energy reduction in our municipal buildings by the end of next year, reducing our CO2 emissions by 10 percent by 2030, from wastewater and water treatment. 100 percent renewable by 2030 and 100 percent clean renewable energy as a city by 2035."

Peter says recharging is free...for now.   "We want to see if it's used, how many people are going to use them, what the length of time is. For the number of spots we have, which is only 19 throughout our three garages, to set up a back office system to handle the payments, and to figure out how we're going to charge and how we're going to regulate it is actually more expensive and could stop people from potentially using it, in confusion. So until we really know what the demand is, we want to leave it free and easy to use."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Mayor Kathy Sheehan addresses the media atop the Riverfront Parking Garage in downtown Albany.

NYPA's Director of eMobility Technology and Engineering John Markowitz drives an electric car. He says New York State Thruway drivers are being billed for charges.    "Most cities when they first install them have a trial period for a year or two where it's free and they just collect data on how often they get used and then determine the pricing policy that's appropriate. Some cities will bill by the hour, if it's a busy location with lots of people coming in and out. Others might just build by the unit of energy if it's the kind of place like a train station where you leave your car for multiple hours."

Sheehan adds it's important for Albany to prepare now during the initial stages of the transition to electric vehicles.   "We need to ensure that we're allowing through our zoning, through the incentives that we provide, and through the work that we're advocating for, that we have that distribution infrastructure in place so that there are places for people to plug in their vehicles. We have a lot of residential that's happening downtown, and to make sure that we have an infrastructure in place to allow people to have electric vehicles is really important."

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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