LAUREN HALLIGAN, Troy Record

TROY, N.Y. -- The Collar City is making strides to electrify travel in the new year.

Last week, two electronic vehicle (EV) charging stations were installed in Uncle Sam Parking Garage, enabling more electric vehicle travel.

Two charging stations are now available to potentially support four electric vehicles at once. One station is on the first floor where cars enter from Third Street, and the second is in the back northeast corner.

Uncle Sam Parking Garage owner David Bryce decided to include the stations in the garage after identifying a need. Two of his tenants have electric vehicles with limited range. One of these EV pioneers is Tobi Saulnier, CEO of 1st Playable Productions independent game development studio in Troy.

Interested in utilizing alternative energy in as many ways as possible, Saulnier bought a smart car last fall.

Saulnier initiated the project, personally asking National Grid to install the stations so that gas-free guinea pigs like herself would have places to charge up in Troy.

Through a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant fund, part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Charge NY initiative, the stations were paid for in full, including the majority of installation costs.

Charge NY was established in 2013 to promote EV use through investing $50 million over five years. The plan includes installing 3,000 public and workplace charging stations by 2018.

New York has one of the highest growth rates of electric vehicles in the country. More than 6,000 EVs are on the road in New York, according to John Gilbrook, senior transportation project manager for National Grid. The state expects the number of EVs in the state to increase to as many as 40,000 by 2018, and a million by 2025.

The million-dollar grant was awarded last spring to cover 81 stations throughout the state. Station manufacturer ChargePoint and National Grid provided an additional $550,000 for the cost of this program. The Troy installations were two of the last in National Grid’s territory, Gilbrook said. National Grid facilitated 66 installations.

More than 30 of the NYSERDA-funded station went in the Capital Region, Gilbrook said, bringing the total number of station to about 60.

"The Capital Region was the most ready for electric vehicle charging stations," he said.

ChargePoint features include the ability to locate, reserve and navigate to unoccupied charging stations with online tools and mobile applications. ChargePoint locations may be found online at www.chargepoint.com or with the free mobile application.

All of the grant-funded locations in the Capital Region are free to use, as are most within the state. Through the mobile ChargePoint application or physical card, EV drivers can unlock the charging stations and use them. They are similar in structure to gas pumps and plug into a similar spot on the car.

With a full charge, Smart Cars can travel between 50 and 60 miles, but larger vehicles like Tesla models can ride for about 300 miles, Saulnier said.

The electricity used the charge a car is relatively inexpensive, at approximately 50 cents an hour, Gilbrook said.

Businesses that want EV owners are jumping on the bandwagon, too. Price Chopper Supermarkets plans to install a network of more than a dozen EV stations across NY, said Mona Golub, vice president of public relations and consumer and marketing services.

The grant money paid for 90 percent of each installation, in addition to the cost of the fixture itself. Saulnier’s gaming company funded the remainder of the Uncle Sam Paring Garage installation and will sponsor one parking spot.

"The intent is to have it be a community service," she said.

In time, Saulnier hopes that more people will adopt the technology.

"I’m a big supporter of Troy and I think we should have things like charging stations because we’re hopefully attracting a lot of high-tech companies, and attracting people who are at the lead of using new technology," Saulnier said. "In a few years, they’ll be commonplace, but I’m happy to have Troy joining the forerunners."