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Niagara Falls Receives Electric Vehicles Through N.Y. Power Authority's Green Zones Program

Christine Pritchard
The Office of the Mayor of Niagara Falls

October 24, 2008


NIAGARA FALLS—New York Power Authority (NYPA) President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel was joined today by Niagara Falls Mayor Paul A. Dyster to launch the city’s official entry into the Authority’s Green Zones Program, an initiative for substituting environmentally clean electric vehicles (EV) for conventional vehicles. 

Niagara Falls’ participation begins with two GEM e4 vehicles, a four-passenger EV that will be used by the Niagara Falls Police Department for patrolling and parking enforcement duties.    

“I am delighted that one of my first official acts as the Power Authority’s president is joining Mayor Dyster in marking the city’s acquisition of these zero-emission electric vehicles that use electrons, not gallons,” said Kessel. “They symbolize our continuing partnership with the communities where our Niagara Power Project is located for lowering the energy costs of local and state governments and businesses. These efforts are also closely aligned with initiatives under Governor Paterson for combating greenhouse gas emissions through wide-ranging measures to reduce use of fossil fuels and keep energy dollars in New York State.” 

“These two electric vehicles herald the priority that the City of Niagara Falls is giving to green energy technologies and improved energy efficiency,” said Mayor Dyster. “This makes great sense for reducing the cost of city government and saving taxpayer dollars.

I want to thank Richard Kessel and the Power Authority for supporting our acquisition of the GEM e4s, which will be among several EVs we’re going to be purchasing with the Authority’s help.” 

Kessel, who joined NYPA on October 14, noted that Niagara Falls State Park previously received nine EVs under the statewide Green Zones Program in which the Power Authority assumes half of the cost of the new vehicles.  The program is designed to replace gasoline and diesel vehicles in such limited-access areas as parks and college campuses--and municipal downtown areas.  

More than 20 Green Zones have been established throughout the state under the program, resulting in purchase of more than 50 EVs, along with battery-charging stations.   

The program is one of a number of NYPA initiatives that has resulted in the distribution of about 1,000 electric-drive vehicles for electricity customers, other public facilities and in the Power Authority’s own fleet.  Collectively, the vehicles, which range from three-wheeled EVs to hybrid-electric transit buses, have logged more than nine million miles, making the Power Authority the leading utility in the Northeast for introducing electric and hybrid-electric vehicles.      

The two GEM e4 obtained by the City of Niagara Falls will be used in place of Ford Crown Victoria police cars. They are expected to travel a combined 8,000 miles per year, avoiding the release of more than one ton of carbon dioxide annually by displacing some 500 gallons of gasoline a year. 

The GEM e4, which costs nearly $14,000, is manufactured by Global Electric Motorcars, a Chrysler company located in North Dakota. The front-wheel drive vehicle is charged using regular household electric current (110 volts), without any special adapter.  Regenerative braking also helps charge the 12-horsepower vehicle when in use. 

When fully charged, the front-wheel drive GEM e4 can attain a top speed of 25 miles per hour and has a range of about 30 miles. The vehicle’s six 12-volt maintenance-free lead-acid batteries recharge in approximately six to eight hours. 

In addition to the Green Zones project, the Power Authority’s relationship with Niagara Falls center on the Niagara project’s successful relicensing and on use of low-cost hydropower for economic development, including businesses engaged in clean energy technologies.  

Both the city and Niagara Falls School District received allocations of Niagara power as municipal members of the Niagara Power Coalition, one of the Power Authority’s key partners in the relicensing of the 2,441-megawatt project.

 The coalition members also benefit from payments by NYPA of five million dollars a year over the new 50-year license term of the project as part of the more than one billion dollars in financial support and other benefits for Western New York. The new operating license went into effect in September 2007.

Noteworthy allocations of Niagara hydropower to Western New York businesses in recent months have included Globe Specialty Metals and Northern Ethanol—both in Niagara Falls—in support of innovative plans by those companies involving solar power and biofuels and hundreds of new green collar technology jobs.

Overall, Niagara power supports approximately 45,000 jobs at 135 companies in the Buffalo-Niagara region. 

 About NYPA:

■    NYPA 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-owned electric utility, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of the state and more than 1,400 circuit-miles of transmission lines.

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