Governor Kathy Hochul announced today the launch of the Green Boats program to promote the electrification of tour and charter boats operating on the New York State Canal System. As part of the “Reimagine the Canals” initiative, the New York Power Authority and the New York State Canal Corporation are creating an incentive program to support the conversion of fossil fuel-powered vessels operated by qualified tour, rental and charter boat operators on the canal system to electric propulsion. To spark interest in such a program, the New York Power Authority recently published a Request for Expressions of Interest (“RFEI”) and successfully piloted a pilot project with Erie Canal Adventures in Macedon, Wayne County, by engaging one of the 42 Foot charter boats from diesel to electric.
“New York is a nationwide leader in the fight against climate change, and this innovative new program goes hand in hand with our nationwide efforts to reduce emissions and promote the adoption of electric vehicle technology.” Governor Hochul said. “Green Boats will show that electrification is an achievable and realistic goal, while enhancing the experience for the operators and thousands of tourists who board these ships on the canal system each year, enhancing vital industries above water.”
The upfront costs of converting watercraft to electric motors and batteries remain the major obstacle to the widespread adoption of clean energy technologies along the canal system. The Green Boats program provides targeted investments and incentives to offset these initial capital costs, accelerates electrification efforts and encourages decisions that also benefit business and environmental interests. The funding amounts vary depending on the scope of work and the number of ships per applicant.
The Green Boats program will enhance the canal system experience by eliminating the noise, pollution and odor caused by fossil fuel burning on ships, and aligning with New York State’s commitment to the Reduce nationwide greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030 and 85 percent by 2050.
Gil C. Quiniones, President and CEO of NYPA said:“We are proud to offer this incentive program that works towards a cleaner, greener future that will ultimately benefit not only ship operators and tourists but also thousands of people in the communities along the Canal. Our investments will show this.” Electrification is easily achievable and will drive both boat operators and local governments to devote themselves fully to the electrification of watercraft in the years to come. “
Under the pilot of Erie Canal Adventures, the 42-foot tour boat’s existing diesel engine was replaced with an electric motor from Elco Motor Yachts, a manufacturer based in Athens, New York. The characteristic features of the tour boat were retained during the conversion from diesel to electric. Given the success of the pilot, Erie Canal Adventures is now considering converting its entire fossil fuel fleet to all-electric propulsion.
Brian U. Stratton, director of the New York State Canal Corporation, said:, “This program serves the values at the core of the Reimagine the Canals initiative, bringing new technology and a future of brighter opportunity together with the historic beauty and infrastructure of the canal system. We look forward to helping boat operators reduce their emissions while making their businesses more environmentally and financially sustainable. This program is also helping New York meet the governor’s ambitious goals for nationwide emissions reductions. “
Brian Keenan, President of Erie Canal Adventures said:, “The Green Boats program is a groundbreaking, one-of-a-kind project that sets New York State apart and moves Erie Canal recreation into a sustainable, environmentally friendly future. This is a great opportunity to bring Erie Canal history alive and at the same time rethinking how we can operate the waterway in a new sustainable way that meets today’s needs. It is a win for the Erie Canal, for the environment and for our state as a whole. ”
The use of electric propulsion technologies has tangible environmental and financial benefits, although it is often associated with higher up-front costs than fossil fuel alternatives. NYPA’s support through this “Green Boats” program would help operators on the canals reap the benefits of electric propulsion, including:
- Enhancing the canal visitor experience by reducing the pollution, noise and smell caused by fossil fuel burning on the waterways
- Enable operators on the channels to make their services more attractive to an audience that is increasingly concerned about environmental impact
- Supporting the air, noise and water quality goals of communities along the canals currently exposed to the negative effects of fossil fuel burning on the waterways
- Promote New York State’s goal to reduce emissions in the transportation sector.
As part of the Reimagine the Canals initiative, the New York City Electricity Authority has allocated $ 300 million over five years to revitalize the Erie Canal Corridor as a tourist and recreational destination while promoting economic development and resilience to improve the communities on the canal.
NYPA: Leader in boat electrification
In October 2020, Maid of the Mist, the iconic Niagara Falls tour boat that has been cruising the waters beneath the falls since 1846, launched the first two fully electric, zero-emission passenger ships in the United States through an innovative collaboration between the New York Power Authority, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historical Preservation and ABB, a leader in digital technology. NYPA provides clean, renewable hydropower to operate the ships and provided technical support throughout the electrification process. The NYPA also oversees the ongoing monitoring of the boats’ electricity usage to ensure they are energy efficient and operated in the most cost effective manner possible.
New York State’s National Leading Climate Plan
New York State’s National Leading Climate Agenda is the nation’s most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative, calling for an orderly and equitable transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues to foster a green economy as New York State moves away from COVID-19 recovering from pandemic. Anchored in law by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on the way to achieving its mandate target of an emission-free power sector by 2040 with 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030 and macroeconomic CO2 neutrality. It builds on New York’s unprecedented investments in clean energy expansion, including over $ 21 billion and over $ 1.2 billion in pledges from NY Green Bank. Taken together, these investments will support more than 150,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2019, 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011, and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on these advances and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent, with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of investing in clean energy, benefit disadvantaged communities , and progress toward the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing local energy use by 185 trillion BTUs in final energy savings.