New York embarks on a major transportation sector decarbonization journey

Up to 50,000 new charging stations could soon be installed in the state.

Late last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a package of major clean transportation initiatives, including a “Make Ready” order approved by the New York State Public Service Commission to advance New York’s commitment to accelerate its transition to cleaner mobility.

After decades of work removing carbon from the power (electricity) sector, the transportation sector is now responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. New York has a plan to decarbonize transportation, which includes a target of reducing emissions 85% by 2050. The state was also part of the recently announced MOU with 14 other states and DC to work on making all sales of new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles zero emission vehicles  by 2050 in partnership with NASCUM.

Make-Ready Highlights

  • $700M to incentivize EV charging infrastructure
  • Funded by IOUs
  • $206M allocated to lower-socio-economic and disadvantaged communities
  • 180,000 new EVs on Long Island + 4650 charging stations by 2025
  • $48.8M from VW settlement for busses, including school busses
  • Total of 50,000 Level 2 Charging Stations expected to be funded

The EV Make-Ready Program will be funded by investor-owned utilities in New York State and creates a cost-sharing program that incentivizes utilities and charging station developers to site electric vehicle charging infrastructure in places that will provide a maximal benefit to consumers. The PSC order caps the total budget at $701 million and will run through 2025, with $206 million allocated toward equitable access and benefits for lower-socio-economic and disadvantaged communities which will also be eligible for a higher incentive supporting up to 100 percent of the costs to make a site ready for EV charging. 

The Long Island Power Authority, with its service provider, PSEG Long Island also announced a goal to support 180,000 new EVs on Long Island with 4,650 new EV charging ports by 2025, beginning with a proposed 2021 investment of $4.4 million in make-ready infrastructure. 

In addition to the Make Ready funding from investor-owned utilities, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is allocating $48.8 million from the Volkswagen diesel emissions settlement to transit bus and school bus operators and EV charging station owners to advance local growth of electric vehicle infrastructure, clean public transportation and transit options, and electric school buses.  

Today’s Commission action will provide funding for the infrastructure required to support more than 50,000 Level 2 charging plugs, capable of charging a vehicle at least two times faster than a standard wall outlet, and 1,500 public direct current fast charger stations in New York in recognition of the essential role that public fast charging stations will play in the near term to allay range anxiety. Encouraging private investment in publicly accessible fast-charging stations will stimulate the EV market in New York over the coming years. 

Studies and Contests, Too

Another part of the plan includes $1M to study the challenges of zero emissions bus fleets in disadvantaged communities and identify solutions for electrification including bus options, charging needs and other logistical challenges. NYPA and NYSERDA will partner with five major transit operators across the state to conduct this stufy. 
Also, the Commission has also directed the utilities to create a Fleet Assessment Service that includes site feasibility and rate analysis, to aide fleet owners in identifying cost- and time- saving synergies.

The deployment of charging infrastructure that will occur under the order will enable access to public charging for EV adopters, which coupled with innovative rate designs for home charging to promote off-peak charging, will maximize utility system efficiency.

The need to make rate design modifications will be reviewed as the EV initiative moves forward. 

Lastly, the Commission has directed NYSERDA to propose an integrated competition, with up to $85 million of the EV Make Ready total budget, designed to directly address emissions, equity and electrification in communities near high-density and congested streets and public highways.  Three prize areas will focus on supporting clean transportation options which benefit lower socio-economic and environmental justice communities: 

  • The Environmental Justice Community Clean Vehicles Transformation Prize, a $40 million program focused on reducing harmful air pollution in frontline communities and creating transportation “green zones” across New York State;
  • The Clean Personal Mobility Prize, a $25 million program soliciting innovative and high impact approaches that enable access to clean transportation services for disadvantaged and underserved communities; and
  • The Clean Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicle Innovation Prize, a $20 million program designed to achieve direct benefits; allow concrete investigation of opportunities, costs, and benefits; and prove out innovative and high-impact approaches to medium- and heavy-duty electrification that can be replicated at scale, including for “last-mile” solutions, one of the fastest growing emissions sources in this class of vehicles.  

Commission Chair John B. Rhodes said, “We can and must rapidly electrify our transportation system in order to achieve a carbon-neutral economy, under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s leadership. With these smart investments, we dramatically increase the number of centrally located and easily accessible charging stations, benefiting electric customers and reducing barriers to clean transportation for all New Yorkers.” 

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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