Drive Electric Week highlights the technology

New York State’s Green New Deal, passed this April, mandates 100 percent clean power by 2040, as a move towards reducing global warming. With $1.5 billion earmarked for large-scale renewable energy projects upstate and up to $200 million planned for offshore wind generation in the New York City port area, policies are in place to speed a shift from fossil fuel to electricity as a power source.

But the changes require more than legislation. Greenhouse gases won’t be substantially reduced until individuals buy electric cars, buses are swapped for electric versions, and homeowners install electricity-based heating and cooling systems. Education is the first step, with groups like Sustainable Hudson Valley (SHV) and NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, spreading information to Ulster County residents and businesses. 

“Range anxiety is going away with new technology coming out,” said Seth Leitman of SHV, referring to the biggest stumbling block involved in buying an electric vehicle, or EV. Kia now makes an EV with a range of 235 miles on a single charge. Cars charge faster than they used to. Prices have come down, due to a combination of technological advances and government rebates. NYSERDA offers from $500 to $2000 off the purchase price of an EV, through its Drive Clean program. Since 2011, when EVs first became available, 730 electrics cars have been registered in Ulster County, 350 of those purchased with rebates. During Drive Electric Week, September 14-22, events are scheduled around the state to provide consumers with information on EVs. (See schedule at the bottom of this article.)


The range issue is also addressed by the increase in charging stations, with Ulster County now dotted with 150 sites. “We’ve put in over 4000 charging stations across the state,” said Adam Ruder, program manager of NYSERDA’s Clean Transportation program. “We offer rebates to businesses, municipalities, and owners of multi-family buildings, for installing charging stations.”

SHV is involved with Destination Electric, a consortium of northeastern states and car companies who sponsor marketing to EV owners. “We target people who are either in the Hudson Valley or interested in driving to the Hudson Valley as a getaway,” explained Melissa Everett of SHV. The website lists destinations with charging stations where people can sit and buy something to eat or drink while charging their EVs. The local list includes the Bread Alone bakery, the Emerson Resort, Monkey Joe’s Coffee, Rough Draft Bar & Books, and Peace, Love & Cupcakes, among others. The website provides the locations of charging stations all over the U.S.

Another part of the EV puzzle is teaching car dealers how to talk to potential EV buyers, who have different questions from the usual car buyer. SHV has helped NYSERDA hone a dealer training program, increasing their reach to about 10 area dealerships. “It takes more time to sell an EV,” said Leitman. “You have to make a lot of comparisons. They’re more expensive to buy than gasoline cars, but they’re way cheaper to operate.” 

London now has a fleet of electric buses traveling its streets, and SHV offers seminars on electrification for transit agencies and school districts. “Electric buses cost $100,000 more,” said Leitman, “but you’re saving $200,000 on fuel over the life of the bus.” 

As more renewable power sources go online in New York State, said Ruder, “Every day is going to be cleaner than the day before. Even today, an EV is far cleaner than a gas car. The Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated that in upstate New York, from a greenhouse gas perspective, driving an electric car is the equivalent of driving gasoline car that gets 190 miles per gallon.”

In a forthcoming article, we’ll look at the prospects and incentives for moving from fossil-fuel-based heating and cooling to electrically-powered technologies.

Drive Electric Week

Visit for details and free offers relating to electric vehicle events coming up in the Hudson Valley. 

Saturday, September 14, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Ulster County Court House Parking Lot, Kingston

Displays of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids by private owners as well as test drives from local dealerships. 

Saturday, September 21, 3:30-5 p.m.

SUNY New Paltz Campus, West Parking Lot (next to Athletic and Wellness Center)

Zero Emissions Parade and Green Vendor Fair, with activist street band Tin Horn Uprising and scores of electric vehicles as well as bicycles and pedestrians. 

Sunday, September 22, Noon-3 p.m.

Locust Grove Estate, 2683 South Rd., Poughkeepsie 

Learn how to receive tax credits that can push the price of a brand new EV under $20,000, plus what it’s like to charge at home and on the road. Real information from local Hudson Valley drivers. No dealers will be at the event.