Saugerties invests in electric car charging stations

Fred Costello Jr. and Greg Chorvas at the charging station. (photo by Christina Coulter)

Visitors and the estimated 400 electric-car users in Ulster County can now power up at Saugerties’ first charging station, located in front of the Small World Park near the Kiwanis Ice Arena. According to superintendent Greg Chorvas, this is just the first in a series of charging stations likely to be installed in the community within the next year, thanks to a Department of Environmental Conservation grant that will pay for three-quarters of their cost and two years of electricity to the apparatus. After that initial period, users will be charged.

Rick Cousins of Saugerties “turned us onto the grant; without that grant this may not have been a possibility,” said deputy town supervisor Fred Costello Jr. Cousins drives a Chevy Volt himself.

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This particular grant is funded through Volkswagen settlement funds. New York State chose to allocate its $127.7 million from a settlement with the car maker on clean-air projects

At the August 16 meeting of the town board, the town committed to a $7,498 contract to Lilypad EV of Overland Park, Kansas to install the dual-outlet station. The machine is capable of charging two vehicles at once, and provides “a medium length of charge.”

This year, the village of Saugerties rejected a similar plan to install a charging station, reasoning that it was undemocratic to give electric-car users, who don’t pay into the state’s transportation fund, free fuel while not providing free gas for those with traditional internal combustion engines.

Chorvas, however, feels that the advantages to providing such a station are significant. “I hope the village sees the value and economic component [of installing a charging station],” said Chorvas. “Let’s say a family or individual is coming up from the metropolitan area. They’ll look for [a route with] charging stations within two miles of the Thruway. One of the reasons we chose the ice arena is that someone could come charge their vehicle and go skate for two hours. They’ll plug in, buy some skates and go skate.”

Because this charging station exists, noted Costello, Saugerties is noted on charging station finding app Plugshare. “People plan their trips using this app, and now Saugerties is on the map.”

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