N.Y. Power Authority Ride-And-Drive Workshop In White Plains Showcases Latest Electric-Drive Vehicles

Michael Saltzman

October 5, 2010


Photos and Captions

WHITE PLAINS—The New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Westchester County and New York City governmental electricity customers got a first-hand look Tuesday at advanced electric- and hybrid-electric vehicle models being introduced by the Ford Motor Co. and another company. NYPA is helping to usher into use these and other electric-drive vehicles in government fleets for meeting New York State goals for clean transportation.    

Working together with Ford and Azure Dynamics Corp., an electric-drive vehicle innovator, the Power Authority hosted a “ride-and-drive” workshop at its White Plains administrative office building, where an electric commercial van, hybrid-electric shuttle bus and other electric-drive vehicles were showcased.  Several of the Authority’s governmental customers, including the City of White Plains, Village of Hastings-on-Hudson and Village of Tarrytown, have plans or have just recently purchased models of the Ford and Azure vehicles.

“The Power Authority is a leader in helping to introduce electric and hybrid-electric vehicles in the New York Metropolitan Area and other parts of the state,” said NYPA President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel. “These electric-drive vehicles are essential to improving energy efficiency, energy security and air quality, and for growing jobs for the economy.  For all of these reasons, we’re teaming with automobile manufacturers, local and state governments and others to promote wider use of these vehicles, beginning with government vehicle fleets.  The electrified vehicles that we’re drawing attention to today are the latest examples of our efforts, which have resulted in our helping to put over 1,200 electric-drive vehicles on the road since 1995 that have driven more than 11 million miles.”

Kessel noted that the Power Authority is obtaining by the end of the year an early-production vehicle known as the Transit Connect, a commercial van manufactured by Ford, with an electric propulsion system integrated into the vehicle by Azure Dynamics. Azure, a Detroit company, is a world leader in the development and production of hybrid-electric and electric components and powertrain systems for commercial vehicles. This includes the company’s Balance ™ Hybrid Electric Shuttle bus, which uses a Ford chassis.  

Under its Electric Transportation Program, NYPA leverages its funds in helping to arrange for other government grants in support of the acquisition by public entities of electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.  They’ve included vans, buses, trucks, passenger cars, and work vehicles.

The City of White Plains, which has purchased 24 electric-drive vehicles over the years with NYPA’s assistance, will be adding to them with Electric Transit Connect vans and hybrid-electric shuttle buses.

“I want to thank Richard Kessel and the Power Authority in supporting us in our plans to purchase next year two Transit Connect Electric vans and two Balance Hybrid Electric shuttle buses,” said White Plains Mayor Adam Bradley. “The electric-drive vehicles that we’ve purchased in the past, with NYPA’s assistance, have contributed to the city’s clean air and fuel-economy goals through replacement of conventional vehicles. The Transit Connect and hybrid-electric shuttle buses will continue the progress we’ve made toward a clean-transportation fleet.”

About two decades ago, White Plains became the Power Authority’s first governmental customer to join its electric-drive vehicle program. Over the years, NYPA has helped to place on the road more than 250 electric-drive vehicles for municipalities throughout Westchester and the Authority’s White Plains vehicle fleet. 

The Electric Transit Connect van, which costs over $50,000, seats two passengers and has a large, easily customized cargo area that makes it suitable for delivery needs.  The vehicle (shown in the accompanying photo) has a driving range of up to 100 miles on a full charge and zero tailpipe emissions.

The Balance Hybrid-Electric Shuttle Bus (second photo) seats 12 to 14 passengers.  Compared with a comparable conventional vehicle, it provides up to a 40 percent fuel consumption savings and 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. 

“We greatly appreciate the role the Power Authority played in helping to make possible our acquisition only last week of the Balance Hybrid-Electric Shuttle Bus, which is replacing a gasoline bus used for providing community services for our seniors,” said Hastings Mayor Peter Swiderski.  “Our use of the hybrid shuttle is part of the collaborative efforts of state and local governments and the automobile sector in advancing clean transportation, which is so important for combating greenhouse gas emissions and reducing dependence on foreign oil.”
“Great thanks to the Power Authority’s Richard Kessel and his staff for facilitating our purchase of the hybrid-shuttle bus, which will be the third electric-drive vehicle that we’ve obtained as a result of NYPA’s efforts,” said Tarrytown Village Administrator Michael S. Blau.  “Battery-replenishing electric energy makes enormous sense for the future of the country’s transportation sector. Our village is excited about being one of the local governments advancing this technology, including the hybrid-shuttle bus, which will be utilized for serving our senior citizens.”   

The Power Authority provided $27,000 in co-funding for each of the buses obtained by Hastings and Tarrytown.  Working with Westchester County, NYPA also helped arrange for other state and federal funding toward the approximately $100,000 price tag of the bus.  

Over the last year, NYPA has assisted others to purchase hybrid-electric shuttle buses, including the College of Staten Island, the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp., and UPROSE, a nonprofit community organization in Brooklyn.   

Other parties that participate in the Power Authority’s Electric Transportation Program include community-owned electric systems around the state—municipal electric systems and rural cooperatives whose residential and business customers benefit from NYPA’s low-cost power.

Tuesday’s electric- and hybrid-electric vehicle workshop in White Plains followed a ride-and-drive event that Ford held on Monday in Manhattan.  It was part of a 14-city tour by the company to promote its electric vehicle strategy and educate consumers on what to expect from electrified automobiles and on what is needed from the public and private sectors to support them.  


Sherif Marakby, director of Electrification Programs and Engineering, Ford Motor Co., said: “Ford plans on bringing five new electrified vehicles to market over the next two years, including the Transit Connect Electric later this year and the Focus battery electric in late 2011. We know there is an incredible excitement for electric vehicles in the New York area and across the country.  To support the rollout and acceptance of these vehicles, it is crucial to work with utilities like NYPA to make sure the necessary infrastructure is ready.”

Scott Harrison, chief executive officer, Azure Dynamics, said:  As an energy producer, NYPA has shown a willingness to embrace new electric propulsion technologies for its fleet as well as supporting the use by its government customers of vehicles using these technologies.  As electric mobility takes center stage and volumes increase, collaboration between vehicle manufacturers and energy producers is necessary. This relationship signals that these important steps are being taken.”


About NYPA:

■ The New York Power Authority uses no tax money or state credit. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned in large part through sales of electricity. ■ NYPA is a leader in promoting energy efficiency, new energy technologies and electric transportation initiatives. ■ It is the nation's largest state public power organization, with 17 generating facilities in various parts of New York State and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines. ■ Approximately 80 percent of the electricity it produces is clean renewable hydropower.  Its lower-cost power production and electricity purchases support hundreds of thousands of jobs throughout the state. ■For more information, www.nypa.gov.


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