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Towns add public electric-car stations, fueling change without draining taxpayers

White Plains Mayor Tom Roach and Joseph ‘Bud’ Nicoletti, Jr., the Commissioner of Public Works, stand next to one of the public electric car chargers in a lot near the White Plains train station Jan. 24. / Mark Vergari/The Journal News

BEDFORD — The decision this week by town officials to deploy six public charging stations for electric cars in shopping areas highlights the growing role local leaders are taking in the green driving movement.

But don’t expect a windfall. The town is not pursuing a new revenue stream so much as it is providing a service and setting an example.

The effort in Bedford dovetails with the town’s climate action plan to reduce harmful emissions by 20 percent before 2020. It’s also part of a larger effort in Chappaqua, White Plains, Montebello and other northern suburbs to promote clean energy.

“This is the wave of the future because we don’t want to be dependent on oil,” says Bedford Supervisor Lee Roberts. “We are just seeing the beginning of this effort to put these stations in, but it’s going to snowball.”

The fact that local governments are taking the initiative doesn’t mean taxpayers are on the hook for the bill, at least not directly. The kilowatt-dispensing plug-in stations cost as little as $2 a day to run, an expense that is made up by charging users for the electricity.

“There is virtually no cost to the taxpayer the way this is structured,” says Edward Ritter, Bedford’s comptroller.

Moreover, one California-based company called ChargePoint that markets the devices has been securing state and federal grant money that lets the vendor provide the devices free. It makes the deal attractive for the municipality, which pays only an installation fee of $230.
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