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Central New York planning for more electric cars

Ellen Abbott
A charging station for electric vehicles in downtown Syracuse

Central New York is preparing to have more electric vehicles on the roads in the near future.

Chevrolet is promising that it will deliver an affordable electric vehicle with a 200-mile range to showrooms by the end of this year. Other electric vehicle producers are expected to follow suit. So with the potential of more of these vehicles hitting the highway, Central New York’s Regional Planning and Development Board is getting ready.

"We’ve been finishing up a regional plan for charging stations in additional areas that would help drivers deal with the range anxiety that they often have,” said Energy Management Program Manager Chris Carrick

Carrick figures there are probably about 500 electric vehicles right now in the five-county central New York area, which includes Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland, Madison and Oswego Counties.

Those electric cars rely on a smattering of charging stations in downtown Syracuse, and in some area malls. But if more people buy these cars -- which will be in the $30,000 range including federal incentives -- more charging stations would make the prospect of these cars more appealing.

“It’s a chicken-and-egg problem, like many of these clean energy technologies. You need to have a certain amount of infrastructure in place in order to have the technology, but it’s hard to make the case to put the infrastructure in place if you don’t have a lot of users," said Carrick.

They’re scouting private and public locations in Syracuse, DeWitt, Clay, Camillus and Fayetteville -- areas where demographics suggest more people would buy electric vehicles. Albany wants to triple the number of electric vehicles on the road to 40,000 in the next two or three years. Carrick says that’s vital if New York state is going to reach ambitious climate and greenhouse gas goals.

"We just simply can’t meet energy and environmental goals by installing solar and retrofitting buildings. It’s not enough because 40 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and the majority of that is single passenger vehicles."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.