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      Waste Watch: Are public electric car chargers worth the investment?

      T hough they're rarely used , G overnor Cuomo is shelling out $50 million over five years to install electric car charging stations throughout New York State. On Thursday, the State Public Service Commission helped clear the way by de-regulating charging stations.

      B rian Macrae of Synapse says you can now be charged by how much electricity you need rather than how long you're plugged in. "What it does is it lifts a regulatory barrier to allow a change in the pricing for charging at publicly available stations." Macrae explained. He says that will make it less expensive for a motorist whose car takes longer to charge than others.

      B y removing this regulatory requirement, the PSC hopes to meet Governor Cuomo's commitment to establish some 3 thousand charging stations statewide. But for now the charging stations seem deserted. You will hardly ever see a car plugged into any of the 71 public charging stations in Onondaga and Oneida counties. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles there are only 217 electric vehicles registered in a 6 county region surrounding Syracuse. Macrae says, the establishment of charging stations can be considered preparations for the future. "It's not an easy change." Macrae says, "It's a behavioral change. People have to get used to using electric vehicles."

      T hough electric cars help relieve our dependence on fossil fuels and have zero emissions , consumers are not buying them partly because of "range anxiety", the fear of being stranded when they run out of juice. So the idea is to space charging stations throughout New York so that you can drive from one to another without worry.

      S cott Rose of Fuccillo Nissan points out that the Nissan Leaf can get up to 80 miles on a full charge. He sees charging stations as part of an infrastructure that will be very necessary in the future. "I see it as an investment in our future. I really think this is the technology of tomorrow. It seems a lot of manufacturers are stepping up and pushing that way as well."

      M acrae says those who do own electric cars have collectively purchased 8 .5 megawatts hours of electricity at the charging stations. He says that equates to 28,000 miles of driving without any emissions.