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Schenectady considering charging stations for electric cars

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Albany/HV: Schenectady considering charging stations for electric cars
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With a rise in drivers choosing to travel in electric cars, the Schenectady City Council held a meeting to discuss possible funding to put charging stations throughout the area. Innae Park has more.

NEW YORK -- It's a buzz that's spreading throughout New York State.

Under a program through NYSERDA and the U.S. Department of Energy, the state has awarded $4.4 million to ten different entities to create more than 300 new electric vehicle charging stations. Currently in the Capital Region, there are only about ten, according to a NYSERDA spokesperson. With a growing supply for what seems to be a growing market, one local government wants in.

Monday night, the Schenectady City Council voted to apply for state funding for such stations in conjunction with Schenectady County, Schenectady County Community College and Metroplex.

"Right now you don't have a lot of electric vehicles in use, but again as more and more people buy them, it'll add a convenience and a cache for our community to be able to say we have these charging stations available in Schenectady," said Mayor Gary McCarthy.

He believes it would be an even greater boost, since he hopes the city will eventually switch its fleet from gas to battery.

However, some are more cautious.

Resident Tony Buonome said, "If the city buys these cars, if they buy the cars, how long are they going to expect to keep these cars? Is it going to be worth to keep them money or are they gonna lose money in the long-run?"

Speaking of money, the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Demonstration Program doesn't foot the entire bill for such stations. McCarthy is estimating the grant would cover 80-percent for their joint plan. While you may be able to charge your car for a couple of bucks, the charging stations themselves aren't cheap, each at around $10,000.

However, the Albany Holiday Inn Express on Broadway, the owner of the first public electric vehicle charging station in upstate New York, says it's been worth it. Their station was installed last summer.

Since then, General Manager Dee Earle said, "We've seen an uptick in guests who are staying here to charge their car... or some guests are just impressed with the green initiative and want to support a hotel that has green programs." She added, "It's been a win-win for the hotel."

There is a second round of funding to be awarded. The deadline to apply is July 25.

Some of the projects in the Capital Region include:
- 7 locations around the Albany area, including St. Peter’s Hospital, Albany-Rensselaer Train Station, Times Union Center, universities, supermarkets and more.
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- 1 Albany apartment complex

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