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State Sen. Jen Metzger (D-42) joined local and county government, community and business leaders on Thursday to cut the ribbon for the Town of Gardiner’s new electric vehicle charging station, installed in the Gardiner Library parking lot next to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.

The installation of the charging station was made possible by funding through the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Municipal Zero-emission Vehicle Rebate and Infrastructure Grant program, which offers grants to municipalities for electric vehicle infrastructure as well as for municipal electric vehicles.

Prior to joining the State Senate, Metzger led efforts as a town councilwoman to install two public electric vehicle charging stations in the Town of Rosendale and provided guidance to other towns, including Gardiner, to help them do the same.

Since joining the state senate, she has been a leading proponent for shifting to a clean energy economy and has introduced a package of bills to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles in New York. The transportation sector accounts for the largest share of New York’s greenhouse gas emissions, the main cause of climate change. In December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law Metzger’s bill directing the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to identify areas across the state where electric vehicle infrastructure is insufficient and develop a plan to close the gaps. It is Metzger’s hope that the legislation will help New York meet the goals of the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050.

“I am thrilled to see this project come to fruition and I encourage other towns and villages in our region to take advantage of this grant program and install public electric vehicle chargers in their communities,” Metzger said. “It makes good climate sense and it makes good economic sense because electric vehicle drivers will choose towns to visit and vacation spots that have the necessary infrastructure.”

Metzger drives a fully electric Chevy Bolt and noted that it gives the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon, saving her a lot of money.

“It’s the best car I’ve ever owned,” she said.

People across the world are taking notice of the financial and environmental benefits to driving an electric vehicle. According to Statista, a business data platform that provides insights and facts across 600 industries and 50+ countries, there were 4.79 million electric vehicles in use in 2019, up significantly from 1.18 million in 2016.

Gardiner’s charging station will be free to the public for the first two years, due to sponsorship of the electricity by local businesses, including Skydive the Ranch, Gardiner Liquid Mercantile, Majestic’s Hardware and Cafe Mio. After the two years are up, a charging fee will be established based on the data gathered over those two years.

The eventual fee will be created so that the station is self-funding. It will never present an expense to the town, however it will not obtain additional revenue.