ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) – Governor Kathy Hochul announced Wednesday in her State of the State address her dedication to reducing New York’s carbon footprint. She is proposing several initiatives to help increase the amount and accessibility to electric vehicles (EVs) in the state.

Hochul says 28% of statewide carbon emissions come from vehicles on New York roadways. She claims the issue was exacerbated by the pandemic, saying people said goodbye to public transport, switching to a personal vehicle.

In December 2021, Hochul signed legislation to allow the Public Service Commission to look at electricity rates for fast charging, critical to EVs. She also signed legislation requiring all new passenger vehicles sold in the state to be zero-emissions by 2035.

Invest $1 billion to support EV adoption and infrastructure

Hochul’s plan includes a $1 billion investment to increase sales of EVs by making them more accessible to the public and making sure there is infrastructure in place to support the initiative. She says EV sales must go from 4% in 2021 to 90% in 2030 for cars. For trucks, she says sales must go from under 1% to 40% for the plan to work.

She plans to put $175 million into increasing the amount of EV charging stations with a focus on fast charging for light-duty vehicles along highways. This will be accomplished with the help of federal funds. These funds will build on a $600 million investment over the next four years. This will include the New York Power Authority’s EVolve NY program. The hope is this investment will help the state procure some of the $2.5 billion in federal funding for EVs.

To entice more private investment, she is directing The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Department of Public Service (DPS) to put into motion EV deployment and charging infrastructure build-out. NYSERDA and DPS will:

  • Make the process for installing EV charging stations easier and more attractive by simplifying and harmonizing the state’s EV charging incentive programs, encouraging business models that offer turnkey installations, streamlining the interconnection and permitting process, and offering additional guidance and assistance to potential EV charging station owners.
  • Expand the EV make-ready program for trucks and buses so utilities can help fleets power these vehicles of the future and provide fleets with expanded technical assistance on cost-effective approaches to electrification and charging.
  • Engage transit agencies in developing tools and resources to support 100% zero emissions bus transit and secure cost-effective, clean, resilient, and intelligent bus charging and supporting infrastructure. NYSERDA will conduct a request for information in partnership with New York State transit authorities to explore options for innovative as-a-service models that leverage private capital to support New York’s zero emission bus market.

Teams are encouraged to create plans to showcase projects for clean transportation in disadvantaged communities. This is part of the first round of the $85 million New York Clean Transportation Prizes. NYSERDA will provide planning grants to 17 awardees to refine proposals and interact with the community they want to improve. This is in preparation for a pitch event and grand prize awardee selection in 2022. They can receive up to $200,000 in support of their plan.

Up to 10 of these finalists will receive a $7-10 million grand prize to implement their clean transportation solution. Additionally, NYSERDA will establish a fellowship program for all grand prize awardees, which will be used to further workforce development within the clean energy space in these communities.

Electrify the state fleet by 2035

Hochul plans to follow in President Joe Biden’s footsteps and make sure all state light-duty vehicles are electric by 2035. Biden has set the same timeline for federal light-duty vehicles. She said this will fulfill the state’s U.S. Climate Alliance COP26 commitment.

100% electric school buses by 2035

To build off her commitment to having all light-duty state vehicles be electric by 2035, Hochul is also calling for school buses to be 100% electric in the same time period. According to Hochul, there are about 50,000 school buses on the road across the state. She said removing just the buses in New York City would be equivalent to taking 650,000 passenger vehicles off the road.

She is proposing legislation that would require any buses bought after 2026 must be zero-emissions and by 2035 all school buses on the road will have to be electric. Included in the proposal is the ability for schools to extend bus contracts past five years, helping districts achieve this goal.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making $5 billion available over five years in a program aimed at increasing electric and zero-emissions school buses on the road. NYSERDA, NYPA, and the Education Department (SED) will work with schools to apply and deliver winning proposals.

Hochul is directing NYSERDA to update the New York Truck Voucher Incentive Program to include only zero-emissions battery and green hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles as part of the school bus electrification program. NYSERDA will also work with school converting their fleet to electric, to hopefully speed up the process.

Transform Hunts Point into a clean distribution hub

Hochul also plans to transform the largest food distribution center in the U.S., The Hunts Point Food Market in the Bronx, into a clean distribution hub. She says every day more than 15,000 diesel trucks enter and exit the facility, polluting the surrounding area. She will direct NYSERDA and NYPA to develop solutions to transform the hub.