Albany County joins with Suffolk and Westchester to buy electric vehicles

The Enterprise — Michael Koff
“As we emerge from COVID, one of the great challenges we face … is how we deal with climate change,” said Steve Bellone, Suffolk County’s executive, at a press conference on Tuesday.

ALBANY COUNTY — Albany County is joining two large downstate counties, Suffolk and Westchester, in a pact to purchase electric vehicles.
“It gives us an opportunity to get more bang for our buck,” said Daniel McCoy, Albany County’s executive, at a press conference on Tuesday.

He also said, “It gives us better buying power … keeps taxes down, and it’s great for the environment.”

“As we emerge from COVID, one of the great challenges we face … is how we deal with climate change,” said Steve Bellone, Suffolk County’s executive. 

The county leaders, along with George Latimer of Westchester, have set a goal of having their county fleets entirely electric by 2030, less than nine years from now. All three of the county executives are Democrats.

Latimer and Bellone had announced their shared services procurement initiative last month.

Both McCoy and Bellone on Tuesday spoke of the importance of partnerships, an approach leaders used in combating the coronavirus.

“We hope other counties will join us,” said Bellone.

The two downstate counties are much larger than Albany County, which has about 315,000 residents; Westchester, adjacent to New York City, has about 1 million residents, and Suffolk, on Long Island, has about 1.5 million.

McCoy on Tuesday also announced that Albany County is adding seven new dual-port public charging stations: one each at either end of the county’s rail trail — in Voorheesville and on South Pearl Street in Albany; one at the Ann Lee Nature Preserve in Colonie; one at the county’s parking lot at 208 Washington Ave.; one at Lawson Lake in Feura Bush; and two at the county’s hockey facility on Albany-Shaker Road.

“People have to have the convenience,” said McCoy.

He also said that crews from the county’s public works department are now using electric mowing machines. While some workers objected at first, he said, now they like it, saying they can listen to music and “my hairs aren’t rattling when I get off.”


Albany County earns bronze

Last week, Albany County was named as one of 11 local governments statewide that met criteria for the first time to be certified as part of New York State’s Climate Smart Communities program.

Governor Kathy Hochul made the announcement in Glens Falls, which like Albany County achieved bronze-level Climate Smart certification. The town of Queensbury was the third Capital District municipality to earn a bronze designation.

In Albany County, the cities of Albany and Watervliet have been certified as bronze. 

The towns of Bethlehem, Guilderland, Knox, and New Scotland have each passed resolutions to adopt the state’s Climate Smart Communities pledge, but have not yet been certified.

The pledge comprises 10 elements, including building a climate-smart community, taking an inventory of emissions, decreasing energy use, shifting to clean energy, using climate-smart materials management, implementing climate-smart land use, enhancing resilience to climate change, supporting a green innovation economy, informing and inspiring the public, and engaging in an evolving process of climate action.

Established in 2009, the interagency Climate Smart Communities program provides guidance and technical support to local governments to take locally driven climate action. So far, 345 local governments, representing more than 9.4 million New Yorkers, have adopted the Climate Smart Communities pledge.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation launched the certification program in 2014 to document and celebrate the accomplishments of communities taking climate action. There are now 81 certified Climate Smart Communities in New York State.

To be certified, a community must establish an active climate change task force that includes residents and municipal representatives.

Most certified communities complete greenhouse-gas inventories that estimate emissions at the local level and help local leaders identify how best to help the state meet the ambitious greenhouse gas reduction requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

New York State has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050.

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