Thursday, December 21, 2006


NY State Press Release
Dece.ber 20, 2006

High Mileage Vehicle Part of Governor’s Plan to Reduce Dependence on Imported Energy $10 Million Program to Convert State’s Hybrids to Plug-ins that can achieve 100 mpg

Governor George E. Pataki today showcased a new plug-in hybrid car that is being added to New York State’s vehicle fleet, another step toward reducing our dependence on imported energy and protecting our environment. Earlier this year, the Governor announced a $10 million program to convert the 574 hybrid vehicles in the State fleet to be plug-in hybrids, which can achieve significantly higher mileage with lower emissions of harmful pollutants.

“Emerging energy technologies are providing exciting new opportunities for us to break away from our long-term reliance on petroleum, while also helping to protect our air quality,” Governor Pataki said. “Plug-in hybrids use advanced battery technology to nearly double the typical miles per gallon for hybrid vehicles, meaning we can lower fuel consumption and decrease harmful emissions. It is clearly a vehicle that has the potential to revolutionize the industry and I am proud that New York is leading the way in promoting these development and use of these vehicles.”

Because of their advanced batteries, plug-in hybrid vehicles are able to be charged through a standard household current to achieve significantly greater mileage. These vehicles operate on emissions-free battery power, reducing the amount of fuel utilized and significantly decreasing the release of harmful pollutants, including greenhouse gases.

On August 1, 2006, Governor Pataki unveiled plans for the $10 million plug-in hybrid conversion program at the Saratoga Energy and Technology Park (STEP) in Malta, Saratoga County. This program will facilitate the development and deployment of these advanced, high-mileage vehicles.

The vehicle being added to the State fleet is a plug-in Prius with a converted electric power pack that is expected to achieve 100 miles per gallon or more. The vehicle is the first introduced as part of a two-phase program conducted by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). Plans call for the conversion of two Priuses, followed by three Ford Escape SUVs and a Honda Civic for technical evaluation.

Peter R. Smith, president and CEO of NYSERDA said, “The second phase of the program will be to bulk-purchase the selected technologies for installation on the remaining hybrids in the State fleet. Phase One, with design and prototyping will cost up to a million dollars; Phase Two involves bulk conversions and is budgeted for up to $9 million. It is anticipated that the technology will attract more manufacturers and drive the technology into the public market. Once the technology becomes popular, that’s when unit costs will decline considerably.”

State Office of General Services (OGS) Commissioner, John J. Spano said, “Thanks to Governor Pataki’s commitment to expanding the use of alternative fuels and reducing our State’s dependency on foreign oil, New York has transformed its vehicle fleet from having almost no clean-fueled vehicles in 1995 to now having 6,143 alternative-fueled vehicles. That’s approximately 46 percent of total State vehicles and we have an additional 277 on order. This new initiative with NYSERDA to add plug-in hybrids to the State fleet is just one more example of how New York is leading the nation in the use of alternative fueled vehicles.”

The converted vehicles will use standard 110-volt household current, a departure from previous electric vehicles that required higher voltage hookups. The vehicles can be charged overnight, which would take advantage of lower, off-peak utility electric rates where offered. The new power packs designed by the converting contractors feature different technologies, and the competition among the four companies will provide many new and innovative ideas to the existing hybrid systems.

The four specialty contractors competitively selected to participate in this program have considerable electric-vehicle experience. The Prius on display today was converted by A123Systems of Watertown, Massachusetts and Hymotion of Concord, Ontario. This team will convert one of each three brands. Ford Escapes will be converted by Elecytrovaya of Ballston Spa and Mississauga, Ontario and Hybrids Plus of Boulder, Colorado. The second Prius will be converted by Energy CS of Monrovia, California. The vehicles will be delivered during the first quarter of 2007 for testing and evaluation by NYSERDA staff and consultants, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy. Once the vehicles have proven reliable, they will be placed in fleet service over the second quarter of 2007, for use by various State agencies.

General Motors is the latest major manufacturer to announce that it will produce a plug-in hybrid vehicle - the Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid. Others, including Ford, Daimler Chrysler, and Toyota also have expressed serious interest in the mileage-boosting technology.

Under the “fuel neutral” approach adopted by New York’s Clean Fueled Vehicle Council, the State has transformed its vehicle fleet from having almost no clean-fueled vehicles in 1995 to now having 6,143 alternative-fueled vehicles. This represents approximately 46 percent of total State vehicles, with an additional 277 on order. Of the total alternative-fueled vehicles:

* 2,216 use CNG;
* 2,291 can use ethanol (E85);
* 101 are electric;
* 129 use propane;
* 574 are hybrid vehicles;
* 831 use neighborhood electric; and
* 1 uses hydrogen.

The use of these alternative-fueled vehicles reduced the State’s use of petroleum in its vehicles by nearly 3.2 million gallons in the last five years.

In his 2006 State of the State Address and Executive Budget, Governor Pataki outlined a series of initiatives to reduce our dependence on imported energy. This energy independence plan promotes greater use of clean, renewable fuels, and will spur additional research and development into clean and alternative energy sources. Among the initiatives proposed by the Governor and approved by the State Legislature were:

* The elimination of all State taxes on renewable automobile fuels, including ethanol (E85), biodiesel, and compressed natural gas (CNG), hydrogen, and other renewable fuels, providing a savings of approximately 40 cents/gallon for consumers.
* A $10 million competitive grant program, administered by NYSERDA, for private sector gasoline companies to install renewable fuel pumps for E85, biodiesel, CNG, or other renewable fuels. It is estimated that the program will support the installation and operation of between 400 and 600 renewable fuel pumps at private stations across the State. The New York State Thruway Authority is already moving forward with its program to install renewable fuel pumps at all 27 Thruway travel plazas.
* The expansion of the State’s Empire Zones program to provide tax benefits to clean energy companies regardless of where they are located in New York State. These tax incentives will be available to qualifying companies engaged in research, development, or manufacturing of energy-efficient or renewable energy technologies or products.
* A $5 million competitive grant program, administered by NYSERDA, for start-up companies that are developing or deploying the next generation of vehicle batteries, propulsions systems, and lightweight vehicle parts and components.
* The elimination of "exclusivity contracts" between fuel providers and retail service stations, which only allow the service stations to sell specific brands of fuel. In most cases, these brands do not include renewable fuels. Since the “exclusivity” contracts prohibit service stations from obtaining renewable fuels like ethanol (E85) from other sources, these fuels are not available for sale to consumers.
* Tax credits to cover up to 50 percent of the cost of purchasing alternative fuel vehicle refueling equipment that would be used by facilities selling E85, biodiesel, CNG, hydrogen, natural gas, liquefied or petroleum gas.
* A $5 million competitive grant program, administered by NYSERDA, for the development of hydrogen fueling stations across New York and the conversion of existing internal combustion vehicles to be able to operate using hydrogen fuel.

Earlier today, the Governor also announced a conditional agreement to develop an advanced clean coal power plant and awards totaling $25.2 million for the development of two cellulosic ethanol pilot plants in New York State. The facilities will utilize abundant plant and waste materials to create clean, homegrown renewable fuel for vehicles, helping to reduce our dependence on imported energy.

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