Two towns get a charge from grants for Chatham

CHATHAM–The Towns of Chatham and Ghent have each received state grants to put electric car charging stations in the Village of Chatham. The village straddles the boundary between both towns and the plan is to put one set of chargers in the part of the village that lies within the Town of Chatham and another set at a village site in the Town of Ghent.

It’s not clear how many electric cars will use the chargers, although one person regularly parks a Tesla on or near Main Street. Right now Greenport has the only public charging station in the county. The idea behind the new grants is that with the market for electric powered cars growing, more such vehicles will turn up in Chatham if their owners know they can top off their batteries here.

Last week the Town of Chatham issued a press release announcing approval of a grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for an electric vehicle (EV) charging station. “The grant provides funding for installation costs of a two-vehicle charging station as well as two years of electricity costs incurred by charging EVs,” according to the release. The town said the charging station would be installed at the Main Street parking lot co-owned by the Village and Town of Chatham.

As for the timing, the Town of Chatham says, “Once the contract with the DEC is signed the town expects the installation to be completed and ready to charge cars within six months.”

In a follow-up email this week Chatham Town Board member Landra Haber, chair of the town’s Climate Smart Community (CSC) Committee, said that the total cost of the project is $16,000. “The state pays 80% ($13,000) and the town pays 20% ($3,000). The town’s share includes $2,500 in municipal funds that are an incentive from the state for passing a law permitting residential charging stations. The remainder of the town’s share will be in the form of in-kind services of the Highway Department in preparing the site for installation,” she wrote.

Town of Ghent board member Mallory Mort is leading his town’s effort to establish the other charging station. He confirmed this week by email that his board has received notice of a similar state grant. Mr. Mort attended a Village of Chatham board meeting in March to discuss the placement of the charger in the village parking lot off Park Row, a part of the village within the Town of Ghent. At that time, Mr. Mort said that the town would need a municipal agreement with the village and an easement to use the land before moving forward.

“Both municipalities have asked us for approvals for charging stations. They needed [the Village Board’s] approval for the grant process, since the locations are within village limits, and also within the respective towns,” Village Mayor Tom Curran wrote in an email to the Columbia Paper in response to questions about the program.

He continued, “We are excited about the possibilities, as it may bring new people into the village. It’s possible that a village resident could buy an electric car and charge it up for free. Free fuel is very attractive. In the end, having these stations will promote the spread of electric vehicles”

The press release from the Town of Chatham echoed that statement, saying, “The charging station is expected to encourage EV drivers to take advantage of Chatham’s many local attractions and to visit local shops and restaurants, or take in movie, while their cars are charging.” Both towns met with representatives from Chatham Area Business and Arts (CABA) to seek support from that organization. CABA backed the plan for both stations.

Installing an EV charging station is one of several actions municipalities can take to become a certified Clean Energy Community as determined by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Several local municipalities, including the villages of Kinderhook and Valatie, are also preparing to meet the goals for the program, which can lead to state grant money for energy saving projects.

Other actions the Town of Chatham Climate Smart Committee has completed or is working on include adoption of a unified solar permit; tracking and making accessible to the public data on town energy use and costs; and, ensuring that town officials have appropriate Clean Energy Code Enforcement Training.

Chatham Town Supervisor Maria Lull said in the press release, “With the installation of this electric car charging station, this is a major step forward for green energy and clean environment. It puts the Town of Chatham in the forefront of efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and make it a Climate Smart town.”

According to the state, electric vehicles save money and reduce air pollution. The NYSERDA website states that, “Compared to gasoline-powered cars, EVs are more energy efficient and cost about 50 to 70% less to operate per mile. Because New York’s electricity includes clean sources, EVs reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants that cause smog and acid rain.”

There are 757 electric stations and 1,572 charging outlets in New York, excluding private stations. A map of sites is on at the NYSERDA website www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Drive-Clean-Rebate/Charging-Options/Electric-Vehicle-Station-Locator.

Charging time for car depends on the size of car’s battery, how far it has been driven and the amperage of the charging system, according to Plug In America, a non-profit, supporter-driven advocacy group.

Consumer Reports recently looked into EVs and found that these vehicles range in base price “from $21,750 for the Smart Electric Drive to more than $125,000 for a high-performance Tesla.” But the magazine said that most EVs are eligible for federal tax credits up to a $7,500. They also cost less to maintain than internal combustion cars, Consumer Reports said. See www.consumerreports.org

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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