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Ogdensburg Chamber endorses electric car charging stations idea for city

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OGDENSBURG — The Greater Ogdensburg of Commerce has endorsed the concept of electric-car charging stations in the city now that state officials have told City Hall they cannot be placed on municipal property.

City Manager John M. Pinkerton said Thursday that the state comptroller’s office told him such an arrangement — the city supplying the electricity for free — would be an illegal “gift of services.”

Chamber Executive Director Sandra M. Porter said the chamber was only too happy to pick up the ball and recruit its members and other businesses to help find a private or commercial site to place a charging station.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” she said.

National Grid has received taxpayer funds through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to install charging stations in 70 municipalities statewide on their property at a cost of about $15,000 each with a four-year lease. There is a mid-May deadline to apply for the funds.

The chamber’s enthusiasm for electric-car charging stations, Ms. Porter said, is rooted in the popularity of the environmentally friendly vehicles in Canada.

Many of those vehicles belong to people just across the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge who come to Ogdensburg for shopping, dining and lodging.

“Over 30 percent of our commerce is Canadian,” she said.

The chamber has proposed the charging stations be set in high-traffic areas such as restaurants and shopping centers, downtown or along or near the Route 37 corridor.

Ms. Porter conceded that electric cars are pricey. Indeed, a 2013 Chevrolet Volt costs $31,645, according to the carmaker’s website.

But she believes that the prices will go down in a few years, and more people will be buying them.

“I think they’re going to be like computers,” Ms. Porter said.

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