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NY Governor Announces US$11 Million in Volkswagen Settlement Funds

Nov. 17, 2020
Settlement with Volkswagen to allow further expansion of EV fast charging stations across New York.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the availability of US$11 million to build out the state's network of fast charging stations to support wider adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). The Direct Current Fast Charger program will be administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to scale up EV infrastructure in areas of the state where access to fast charging stations is limited, and will also prioritize improving the availability of charging infrastructure in disadvantaged communities. Increased use of clean transportation supports Cuomo's goal for an 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

"New York continues to serve as a national model for reducing greenhouse emissions. As part of our efforts, we must ensure all New Yorkers, no matter where they live or their economic status, have access to the infrastructure required for using EVs," Cuomo said. "This investment will build the infrastructure necessary for empowering more consumers to choose clean, electric transportation options, while making EVs an accessible option for all New Yorkers."

"We are continuing to reimagine New York's future fueled by clean, renewable energy," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This settlement with Volkswagen will allow us to further expand EV fast charging stations across the state. This helps to advance our commitment to reduce carbon emissions and achieve significant savings in fuel cost. We encourage New Yorkers to buy EVs as we establish more charging stations across the state. We want to ensure New York State continues to lead in building back better, cleaner, and greener now and in the future."

As part of the state's US$127.7 million allocation of the federal Volkswagen Settlement funds, this initiative builds upon Cuomo's "Make Ready" announcement in July, which included a suite of major clean transportation initiatives to accelerate New York's transition to cleaner mobility. It will also address the need to build out a strong network of easily accessible and visible charging stations for consumers in Upstate Regional Economic Development Councils as part of the state's clean transportation strategy.

The Direct Current Fast Charger program will provide up to 80% of the cost to build publicly available charging stations for EVs. Funding will be made available in specific REDC regions through two initial rounds, through which charging station developers will be selected to install at least four DCFC stations per site, at four or more site locations. Only one proposal per developer will be awarded for each eligible REDC region under each round, and if funding remains after these two rounds are complete, the program will continue to a third round.

The program requires at least 25% of the stations to be located within half a mile of a disadvantaged community in support of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal of increasing access to clean energy and sustainable infrastructure to all end-users. Developers installing charging stations in rural areas may be eligible to submit proposals under this program that include two different sites, which would support simultaneous charging for two vehicles at each site.

Applicants are encouraged to co-locate Level 2 EV charging stations and distributed energy resources (DERs), such as energy storage and solar, with the DCFC chargers. Although not required, proposals with these elements will garner additional points from the review committee. Funding for Level 2 charging stations is available through the Charge NY program while funding for DERs is available through the NYSERDA's energy storage and solar programs.

Applications for the first round are being accepted through Feb. 18, 2021. The first round focuses on the following Regional Economic Development Councils regions: Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, and Western New York. The second round of funding will launch in July 2021 and includes the eligible Round 1 REDCs plus Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier. If needed, a third round is expected to encompass all areas that were included in the first two rounds.

The transportation sector is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in New York, representing approximately 36% of the state's total emissions. The recent announcement builds upon New York State's US$1 billion investment in electrifying New York's transportation sector, which is vital to Cuomo's climate and clean energy plan.

Growing access and availability to EVs and scaling the necessary infrastructure benefits all New Yorkers, including those in low-income or disadvantaged areas, by reducing carbon emissions to create cleaner air and healthier communities. Under a range of initiatives, including EV Make Ready, EVolve NY, and Charge NY, the state is rapidly multiplying the number of charging ports to have at least 10,000 ports across New York by the end of 2021. More than 29,000 Drive Clean Rebates have helped state residents purchase EVs, contributing to more than 65,000 EVs sold statewide since 2010.

Funds secured through the federal settlement with Volkswagen are strategically invested in New York State under the Clean Transportation NY plan. The plan, executed by a collaboration of state agencies, directs Volkswagen settlement resources to maximize benefits that build on New York's national leadership on clean energy and climate change. The state's strategically leveraged investment of settlement funds is anticipated to result in at least US$300 million of clean vehicles and infrastructure on New York's roadways.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said: "New York's use of Volkswagen settlement funds to expand EV infrastructure is advancing Governor Cuomo's commitment to mitigate climate impacts from the transportation sector. The announcement will also improve access to EV infrastructure in communities most likely to be overburdened by environmental pollution."

Doreen M. Harris, acting president and CEO of the NYSERDA, said: "Lowering our carbon footprint must be a statewide effort across all sectors of our economy, and prioritizing access to clean transportation is a key focus of Governor Cuomo's climate leadership. By increasing the number of charging stations in areas that largely lack this infrastructure, including those in disadvantaged communities, these programs will help to achieve our carbon reduction goals while ensuring that EV drivers have reliable access to charging services."

Gil C. Quiniones, New York Power Authority (NYPA) president and CEO, said: "Through this new funding opportunity, more public Direct Current Fast Chargers can be built in underserved areas of the state that today have limited or no access to EV fast chargers. This initiative, paired with the NYPA's EVolve NY charging infrastructure program and other collaborative state, public, and private efforts to increase availability of public charging options and DERs, such as solar and storage, will enable New York to lead the EV transportation revolution. These EV charging infrastructure efforts also will help the state advance Governor Cuomo's ambitious climate leadership goals and further position New York as a trendsetter in e-mobility."

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