The New York Power Authority (NYPA) has failed to install electric vehicle (EV) chargers where they are most needed by New York’s nearly 50,000 registered EVs, leaving nearly half of the state’s counties without any NYPA-installed charging stations, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
“Compared to what was promised, the rollout of electric vehicle chargers has been a disappointment so far,” DiNapoli said. “Since encouraging more drivers to switch to electric cars is a part of the state’s strategy for lowering emissions, we have a long road ahead. NYPA needs to look at our recommendations, deliver on its commitments and get this program headed in the right direction.”
The state’s plan for increasing the number of public EV charging stations was meant to spur increased use of EVs, reduce carbon emissions and address the climate emergency. The Charge NY program was announced in 2013 as a statewide network of up to 3,000 public and workplace charging stations to be ready in five years. It was followed in 2018 by Charge NY 2.0, a plan to install 10,000 public charging stations by the end of 2021. That same year, NYPA also announced EVolve NY, a $250 million project to put high-speed chargers at airports and along major highways. Despite the allocation of significant funding, NYPA has fallen short on fulfilling its EV program goals.
As of June 2021, there were 46,608 EVs registered in New York, but NYPA had installed just 277 public EV charging ports, or one for every 168 EVs registered in NY. It had installed another 221 workplace charging ports at its own facilities and at facilities operated by businesses receiving power from NYPA’s Economic Development Power Programs. These chargers are only available to employees.
The ports are not located where they’re most needed. Counties with high numbers of EVs have relatively few charging stations, while some counties have few EVs but a high number of charging ports.
- Suffolk County has 7,916 registered EVs, which is more than any other county and about 17% of the statewide total. It has three NYPA public charging stations, 1.2% of the total and just one charger for every 2,639 electric cars.
- Nassau County has 5,947 registered EVs, about 13% of the statewide total, but only five NYPA public charging ports, 1.8% of the total or one port for every 1,189 electric cars.
- Westchester, where NYPA is based, has more NYPA public ports than any county. It has 4,844 registered EVs, about 10% of the statewide total, and 44 public ports or about 16% of the total.
- Erie County has 1,898 registered EVs, about 4.1% of the statewide total, and 42 NYPA public charging ports, or one public port for every 45 vehicles (about 15% of the total).
- 30 counties with 6,189 EVs have no NYPA-placed public charging ports.
The 2022 State of the State report outlined a plan for New York to deploy an additional $175 million over the next five years for EV charging stations through federal formula funds. To ensure further funding allocations are invested judiciously, agencies involved in the roll-out should be better prepared with effective strategies for promoting EV usage among New Yorkers, as outlined in the audit recommendations.
DiNapoli’s audit also determined that:
- Most of the ports (431) are of the Level 2 type, which can charge a vehicle for 60 miles of driving in one hour. There were only 28 high speed chargers at 18 locations as of September 2020.
- Not one of the EVolve NY’s Phase 1 projects, including installing 200 high speed chargers, were completed by their deadline of the end of 2019.
- As of March 5, 2021, NYPA had installed only 29 high speed chargers at seven locations, putting it on track to finish more than two years behind schedule.
- NYPA did little to promote EVs and EV chargers to its customers, including local governments.
- NYPA didn’t use charging data to determine which locations are popular and might benefit from more ports.
- NYPA’s own inventory of the chargers it has installed was inconsistent and sometimes incorrect.
DiNapoli’s audit recommended that NYPA:
- Set and announce goals for expected results to track accomplishments over specific periods.
- Create a marketing strategy to increase awareness and educate drivers of the benefits of owning EVs.
- Incorporate EV usage data into its program to help promote additional charger installations.
- Work with customers to roll out EV charging stations by encouraging agencies, authorities and local governments to install charging ports and make public aware that high speed EV chargers are available.
In its response, NYPA largely agreed with the audit’s recommendations for improving the program, although it disagreed with the findings regarding placement of charging stations being insufficient to meet consumer need. The agency’s full response is in the audit.
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