By Robert Traverso
Charging stations for electric vehicles are set to arrive in Elmont this fall with the opening of the UBS Arena at Belmont Park, as residents of Elmont, Franklin Square and other nearby communities continue to purchase electric vehicles at an accelerating pace.
“As more and more people have been buying purely electric vehicles, there has been more of an interest for charging stations,” said New York State Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, a Democrat from Elmont. Solages touted the new charging stations for electric vehicles that will be located at the soon-to-be-open UBS Arena at Belmont Park, the new home of the New York Islanders, as an answer to the demand for charging stations that she has heard from constituents.
In March, UBS Arena developers partnered with Boston, Mass.-based XL Fleet to build 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations at the site and deploy fleets of electric vehicles for use by New York Islanders fans and concert-goers attending events at the new 19,000-seat arena. It will be one of the largest electric vehicle stations in the United States, and will help meet New York’s growing demand for electric vehicle charging stations.
“Lack of access to charging infrastructure is one of the top obstacles to electrifying more vehicles, and we are proud to partner with UBS Arena and the Islanders to solve that problem more quickly in the New York metropolitan area,” Colleen Calhoun, XL Fleet’s general manager of its XL Grid division, said in a statement. “Through this partnership, we can help optimize access to charging infrastructure and scale that capacity as the need grows.”
As part of the partnership, XL Fleet will also deploy “a robust suite of electrification infrastructure,” officials said, including solar power generation and energy storage.
“XL Fleet’s ability to provide a full scope of electrification services will be a huge advantage for our patrons, as well as the commercial and municipal fleets in the surrounding communities who could rely on this infrastructure,” said Hank Abate, president of arena operations at UBS Arena, with Todd Hynes, the founder and president of XL Fleet, adding that the location provides an opportunity to deploy “critical electrical vehicle infrastructure” that can be replicated throughout the country.
There are 182 electric vehicles in Elmont and Franklin Square alone, according to data compiled by the New York State Energy, Research and Development Authority on registration of electric vehicles in the state. Electric vehicle registrations have steadily increased in Elmont and Franklin Square each year since 2017.
Despite the high number of electric vehicles in Elmont and Franklin Square, local residents have expressed concern to local lawmakers about the volume of charging stations for electric vehicles in the area.
According to a map provided by New York State Energy, Research and Development Authority, there are no charging stations in either Franklin Square or Elmont. The nearest charging ports for electric vehicles are at a Conoco gas station in Floral Park, Adelphi University in Garden City and Green Acres Mall in Valley Stream.
“I have had inquiries made to me about them, and we’re trying to get them in,” Solages said of constituent requests for more charging stations in Elmont and its surrounding communities.
Long Island is New York state’s largest market for electric vehicles, with nearly one quarter of all standard vehicles and buses registered in the state, according to Drive Electric Long Island, a group “dedicated to encouraging and accelerating the adoption of electric vehicle usage and charging infrastructure on Long Island.”
In a September 2019 report titled “The State of Electric Vehicles on Long Island,” the group found that in 2018 alone, 1,061 electric vehicles were purchased in Nassau County, according to the report. Additionally, the study found that there are 12,833 registered electric vehicles on Long Island, which account for 30 percent of the New York’s total of 42,529 registered electric vehicles, despite the Island accounting for just 15 percent of the state’s population.
Led by the Long Island chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council, the group is composed of a diverse coalition of stakeholders in the electric vehicle market on Long Island, including PSEG Long Island, the Sierra Club, various Long Island universities, Long Island municipalities, automakers, car dealerships, business leaders and people who favor expanding the use of electric vehicles.
Solages expressed optimism that the demand for electric vehicles and charging stations will grow across different Long Island communities. “I personally can’t wait to purchase my own electric vehicle,” Solages said. “We see that fossil fuels are hurting the environment, and I think electric vehicles are better for the environment and 100 percent think it’s something that’s going to grow.”
To accelerate this growth, New York state, Solages said, is poised to offer incentives to local businesses that house charging stations, a policy that Solages said she supports. Negotiations over the size of the incentives have begun, and Solages said the next state budget is set to include incentives for business and property owners to include charging stations for electric vehicles in front of their properties.
Solages said she is open to implementing a number of policies designed to open more charging stations in Elmont and other areas in the 22nd Assembly District.
“Overall, the state of electric vehicles on Long Island is promising,” concluded Drive Electric Long Island’s report.
“I think all vehicles will be electric in the next 10 to 20 years,” Solages said, agreeing with this assessment. “I think people want those electric charging stations.”