The Electric Vehicle rEVolution

ax176_690d_9In July of this year, US electric car sales jumped more than 45% compared to the same time period last year. Leading models include the Chevrolet Volt (2,406 sold); Tesla Model S & Model X (2,000 & 1,800, respectively) and the BMW i3 (1,479)1.

Questions regarding electric car’s consistently pop-up in conversation or on social media. Why are electric cars suddenly all the rage? When did electric cars first come into play? How has the EV industry grown?

It all started some 100 years ago. Innovators in Europe and the US experimented with a battery-powered vehicle in the earlier part of the 1800s. The first successful electric car was designed in 1890 by William Morrison, a chemist from Iowa, and had a top speed of 14 miles per hour. By 1900, around a third of all vehicles on the road were electric cars and growth continued until around 1910. In 1912, gas-powered cars cost almost a third of what an electric car cost2 and with evolving technology of gasoline-powered vehicles, they took off.

Fast-forward to 2000, with the worldwide debut of the Toyota Prius, electric cars made their way back into the spotlight. Silicon Valley startup, Tesla Motors, started producing electric cars in 2006 with a 200+ mile range on a single charge – at the time, unheard of. Over the next few years, other automakers came out with electric vehicles, but one problem remained – where to charge them.

Electric vehicles have transformed the way people think about their commutes, and even more so, their way of life. But what brought about these changes? One of the biggest evolutions is the fact that governments are embracing electric vehicle infrastructure and electric vehicles as a whole – offering workplace charging programs, installing new charging stations on major highways or in major metropolitan areas and offering incentives on EV and EV equipment purchases. Recent CO2 emission regulations are also encouraging adoption in the marketplace.

At NYPA, we recently held an EV showcase event, featuring models from three different auto-makers; employees and customers are offered incentives to “go green” by choosing to make their next car or fleet vehicle an EV or hybrid. At an event in Tarrytown, we celebrated over 100 charging stations that we’ve installed around New York State, with over 1,100 overall. Prioritizing clean transportation is moving from “wave of the future” to right now.

Another game-changer disrupting the industry is the economical aspect of electric car ownership. Though some EV’s may be pricier because of market forces, they’re cheaper to build and with fewer parts. An added bonus is that they’re also cheaper to maintain for the same reason. When prospective car buyers explore their next vehicle purchase, they also look at the comfort aspect – and electric cars can provide that with minimal road noise and an almost-silent motor, leading to a more stress-free environment. Consumers, especially those in the 18-34 age bracket, are scooping up EV’s since manufacturers have brought more choices to market while keeping prices competitive with their gas-powered counterparts.

We’re in an era where electric vehicles have changed more in the past 5 years, than they did during the entire 20th century. Nearly every major automotive brand is producing at least one electric vehicle, and charging station infrastructure continues to grow at a rapid rate. According to the Department of Energy2, if all light-duty vehicles in the US were hybrid or plug-in electric, we would reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 30-60 percent, while lowering carbon pollution from transportation by as much as 20 percent. The successes of electric vehicles today offer a breeding ground for the electric vehicle industry, and prove that electric vehicles are here to stay.


Making a Difference as Part of a (Green) Team

By Lielle Berman, Sustainability Project Coordinator

With 2016 now vying for the top spot as the new hottest year on record (see here), I am struck by this year’s coincidence of Earth Day and Passover. For those of you who may not be familiar with Passover, it is, in a nutshell, a celebration of freedom. The juxtaposition of a celebration of environmental responsibility and stewardship with one of liberation and rebirth helped me remember how freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.

Last week at the UN, leaders of 160 countries ratified the Paris Agreement, as agreed upon at COP21 in December of 2015 (see here). According to a recent NY Times article, we’re making admirable progress, surmounting vast political and diplomatic obstacles to reach some consensus, but it’s still not enough to make a dent. So where does that leave us?

We are the Green Team!

Can we even make a difference? Despite my tendency to default to pessimism, here’s how this convergence of Earth Day and Passover has reminded me that yes, it does matter, and yes, we can make a positive impact:

How we take responsibility as a collective here has the power to resonate beyond these walls. The cool thing about positive impacts is how they have legs—chain reactions, butterfly effect, whatever you want to call it—a positive impact resonates and vibrates beyond the scope of what we can immediately see. Taking responsibility as individuals ensures the integrity and resilience of our community/country/species/planet, and enables the conditions for optimal freedom.

So for this Earth Day/Passover of note, I need to thank all of you for your positive impact. Thank you for being part of this community; for your willingness to learn, share, teach and grow. For listening, and raising your voices. It is no small thing to be engaged in a process of awareness, because it makes all the difference in the world.

energy efficiency, NYPA Initiatives, Sustainability

Daylight Hour at NYPA

By Jill Anderson, SVP of Public Affairs & Business Development

As a public benefit corporation and a leader in clean energy generation, NYPA is always looking to reduce electricity use, particularly during the peak demand summer season, and improve the overall efficiency of its operations. The Daylight Hour initiative provides an excellent opportunity to promote energy efficiency in the workplace and to start a meaningful dialogue with employees about energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We often overlook the seemingly minuscule amount of energy it takes to power our lights, coffee machines, computers, phones, and other office loads. Daylight Hour and similar energy efficiency campaigns highlight simple ways of reducing our energy footprint in the workplace. Last year, NYPA leveraged the momentum achieved from Daylight Hour to launch our own annual campaign called “Efficiency Fridays.” With this initiative, we are successfully promoting energy efficient practices throughout the summer.

Like other workplace sustainability and energy efficiency initiatives, Daylight Hour depends on employee engagement. We use clear, concise language to convey the idea that participation is easy and will not disrupt work. Our message is simple: Turn off lights in day-lit areas to save energy.

Daylight Hour is promoted through several different communication channels. We place posters near elevators, add postings to our intranet, send out a text message reminder to employees 15 minutes prior to the event, and make an announcement over the loud speakers as we approach the start of the hour. In addition, our social media team creates a buzz on Twitter and Instagram to help relay the Daylight Hour message to thousands of NYPA’s followers. The unsung heroes of our successful participation are the members of NYPA’s Green Team, who rally their colleagues to turn off their lights.

NYPA’s Sustainability Office carefully monitors the energy usage in our 17-story White Plains administrative office building through the Power Authority’s NY Energy Manager, a statewide, real-time energy management system. To inspire friendly competition, we track the electricity reduced by each floor and post the results on the intranet. In addition to floor-by-floor energy comparisons, we track whole building energy performance and, more specifically, the reduction in the building’s total lighting load. The results have been astonishing (even our energy experts think so)! As illustrated by the graph below, we successfully reduced our building’s total lighting load by 33% or 25 kWh. That savings only represents an hour. These numbers are encouraging us to consider how much we could save if we incorporated daylighting into our regular routine.

The total lighting load of NYPA’s White Plains Office, as measured by NY Energy Manager.

The total lighting load of NYPA’s White Plains Office, as measured by NY Energy Manager.

Through Daylight Hour, we have learned valuable lessons about what it takes to engage our employees and successfully communicate the importance of sustainable workplace practices. NYPA employees are willing to get involved in workplace initiatives, but it takes consistent effort to keep them focused on what needs to be achieved. Throughout this effort, we have been inspired to explore a range of strategies and to become bolder and more creative in our approach and our message.


Spreading a Message of Sustainability

Going Green gets the spotlight each April when Earth Day events abound and awareness takes center stage. But sustainability is something we emphasize year-round at NYPA’s Visitors Centers, and you’ll find we’ve been spreading the sustainability message to the community for generations.

Our three admission-free New York State Visitors Centers have been in operation for more than 100 years combined! In that time, over 10 million guests have walked through our doors, learning how renewable energy is generated and transmitted.

Nestled near NYPA’s Hydropower facilities, our Visitors Centers offer a unique experience as the energy of water is harnessed close by. Our interactive exhibits, demos, special events and community outreach programs put energy-efficiency knowledge and best practices right into the hands of our community members and visiting tourists. By exploring the benefits of renewable energy sources like water, wind and solar – and learning about small changes that can lead to big energy savings – we empower our visitors to lead more energy-efficient lives, every day of the year.

An annual tradition, we’re hosting special events honoring Earth Day Weekend at the Niagara Power Vista and Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center. Join us on Saturday, April 25 for the Every Day is Earth Day event at the Power Vista and on Saturday & Sunday, April 25 & 26 for Earth Day Weekend at Blenheim-Gilboa.

NYPA’s Visitors Centers

In Central NY:
The Blenheim-Gilboa Power Project Visitors Center
1378 State Route 30
North Blenheim, NY 12131

In Western NY:
The Niagara Power Project Power Vista
5777 Lewiston Road
(Route 104)
Lewiston, NY 14092

In Northern NY:
The Frank S. McCullough, Jr. Hawkins Point Visitors Center and Boat Launch
21 Hawkins Point Road
Massena, NY 13662


Electric Vehicles Surge in New York

There are now over 10,000 electric plug-in vehicles on the road in New York today.

Since Governor Cuomo’s Charge NY initiative was launched in early 2013, nearly 1,000 outlets at 438 charging stations charge electric vehicles across the Empire State. Charge NY is an initiative to create a statewide network of up to 3,000 public and workplace charging stations by 2018 and to put up to 40,000 plug-in vehicles on the roads.

To encourage drivers to choose a hybrid or EV, New York State allows them to use the HOV lanes, regardless of the number of travelers, through the Clean Pass Program. For those already driving electric vehicles, New York also offers a tax credit, up to $5,000, for the purchase and installation of a home charging station. An October 2014 US Department of Energy estimate puts the cost of driving an EV at less than half of what it costs to run a car on gasoline.

With nearly 30 plug-in hybrid or full electric vehicles from over a dozen manufacturers, a future with over 3 million electric vehicles on the roads is quickly becoming a reality.

In New York, we’ve seen an explosion of electric vehicle registration. The first quarter of 2013 saw under 4,000 electric vehicles registered – today, we’re at over 10,000. This year, the New York Auto Show had more electric & hybrid vehicles on display than ever before, and with an indoor “Clean Air Test Track”, consumers were able to see first-hand the benefits of electric vehicle ownership.


BuildSmart NY Facility Star: Jacob Javits Convention Center Staff

BuildSmart NY is Governor Cuomo’s Statewide initiative to improve energy efficiency in State owned and managed buildings by 20% by the year 2020. Each month, NYPA will showcase a selected BuildSmart NY Facility Star to recognize the dedication of these people and their organizations. To learn more about BuildSmart NY, visit

This month’s BuildSmart NY Facility Stars:
Rick Brown: Chief Engineer [25 yrs]
Jim Yeager: General Foreman Electrical [14 yrs]

The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center recently completed a comprehensive renovation, the centerpiece of which is a seven-acre green roof.

A key component of the renovation was the installation of variable air volume (VAV) boxes across the entire building. The VAV system was outfitted with extensive metering and sensors which are all captured by the Building Management System and displayed on an Energy Dashboard so that a better understanding of the energy profile of event organizers can be gained. This allows for temperature and air flow control at 12,600 unique points across the building, many corresponding to where vendor booths are located. Building operators can now adjust temperature based on the needs of the specific vendor, ensuring highly energy efficient operations.

While the use of VAV technology is impressive, perhaps more impressive was that most of the installation and commissioning was performed by internal facility staff. Led by Rick Brown and Jim Yeager, the Javits Center facility team was integral in the implementation of this project, ensuring a timely and cost-effective delivery. The team has also developed expertise on the control of the system, and now effectively controls and customizes temperature throughout the facility resulting in cost savings of $390,000, and a 5% annual energy savings.

For their leadership on this project and ongoing dedication to facility management, we recognize Jim and Rick as BuildSmart NY Facility Stars