The New York Power Authority has installed only 277 public charging ports between 2013 and May 2021, when the audit period ended. An effort to install high-speed chargers is also lagging: As of last March, NYPA had installed only 29 of the 200 high-speed chargers it was supposed to provide by the end of 2019.
The New York Power Authority is behind schedule on installing chargers for electric vehicles across the state, according to an audit by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released last week.
Furthermore, the public utility company has prioritized chargers in Westchester County, where its headquarters are located, despite a relatively low number of electric vehicles in that county compared to others, the report says.
Since 2013, New York Power Authority has initiated several programs to encourage the use of electric vehicles. But it has installed only 277 public charging ports between then and May 2021, when the audit period ended. An effort to install high-speed chargers is also lagging: As of last March, NYPA had installed only 29 of the 200 high-speed chargers it was supposed to provide by the end of 2019.
Progress may have been made since then: A spokesperson told City Limits that the company will soon install its 100th charger through the program.
By the end of the audit period, there were more than 46,000 electric vehicles registered in the state, according to the report, citing data from the Department of Motor Vehicles, though a spokesperson at NYPA noted that the number of electric vehicles statewide has nearly doubled since comptroller’s report. The highest number of those vehicles (more than 7,900) were located in Suffolk County, where NYPA had installed only three charging ports by March 2021, the report said.
Comparatively, Westchester County received 44 charging ports—the most of all counties—despite having only 4,844, or 10 percent, of the state’s electric vehicles. NYPA headquarters is located in White Plains, a town in Westchester County.
An NYPA spokesperson noted these were customer-requested chargers that were not installed through the EVolve NY program, a $250 million initiative to install 800 new charging stations across New York by 2025, but through separate programs, though did not specify which programs.*
In a response to the comptroller’s findings, president and CEO Justin Driscoll acknowledged the delay of the installations, citing legislative actions, negotiations with host sites and the pandemic as contributing factors.
But Driscoll disagreed with the finding that they did not properly prioritize areas of most need for charging stations, and said that using the location vehicles’ registration was a flawed methodology for determining need.
“NYPA’s approach to determine where EV charging is needed is not directly coupled to EV registration as it is crucial to understand where cars travel [by distance rather than by county], while considering where the private sector has installed publicly charging stations and where it is likely to do so,” Driscoll wrote.
The comptroller recommended that NYPA prioritize installing charging stations throughout the state and marketing the benefits of electric vehicles to its customers.
In a statement to City Limits, a company representative noted updates since the end of the audit period. By the end of 2021, there are more than 9,000 charging stations across the state.
“NYPA set out ahead of the market to work with private and government partners, potential charging site hosts, and utilities to determine the fastest, most cost-efficient way of installing high-speed chargers,” the spokesperson wrote. “Despite numerous complexities that remain in the EV charging arena, including interconnection issues, site identification, and economic challenges, NYPA has made significant progress in installing chargers across the state.”*
The report comes shortly after state and city leaders have taken measures to increase electric vehicle use.
In September, Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation requiring that passenger vehicles sold after 2035 be zero-emission models. Last month, the governor allotted $12 million to a program that would allow consumers to receive a $500 to $2,000 rebate when purchasing a qualifying electric vehicle.
At the local level, the city released a plan in September to install at least 80 fast-charging ports across the five boroughs in the next four years.
And in December, former Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would invest $420 toward electrifying its fleet of vehicles by 2035. Part of those funds would finance the installation of at least 1,776 chargers, but only about 100 will be available for public use. As of that month, the release noted, there were 11 city-owned chargers available to the public.
“Our city is leading the way in the fight against climate change, putting people and the planet first,” de Blasio said in a press release at the time. “These historic investments will touch New Yorkers for generations to come, by cleaning our air, making drastic cuts to climate pollution, and building a clean, sustainable city for all.”
You can see how each county stacks up below, or read the full report here.
*This article was updated with a statement and additional information from NYPA.
Liz Donovan is a Report for America corps member.