The EV charging stations at the Jones Beach Energy Center...

The EV charging stations at the Jones Beach Energy Center in Wantagh, Sept. 28, 2022. Credit: Linda Rosier

After years of slow, steady growth, higher-level electric vehicle chargers are set for a faster-paced rollout across Long Island as the state and PSEG/LIPA respond to an upsurge in EV sales.

Last month, the New York Power Authority, which has been criticized for a too-slow charger rollout, announced its 100th superfast charger station in the state, with a new four-charger location in downtown Riverhead.

Officials said they plan to accelerate quick-charger rollouts to keep pace with aggressive state and federal goals for EV adoption over the next decade. Long Island alone foresees a sixfold increase in EVs over the next five years, to 180,000 electric cars, trucks and buses. Two years ago, Long Island had 17,000 EVs registered.

NYPA's plan is to have 400 of the fastest chargers statewide by 2025, helping to bridge the gap to make charging an EV as quick and accessible as visiting a gas station. Fast chargers can top off a battery in well under an hour.

The 3 levels of EV charging

Level 3 chargers, also called superfast, DC Fast Chargers, CCS and ChAdeMO, can top off a depleted car battery in an hour or less. 

Level 2 chargers, which require a 240-volt power outlet, can fully charge an EV in four to eight hours. Most use so-called J1772 adapters. Tesla has its own format.

Level 1 chargers uses standard 110-volt outlets and can take a day or more to fully charge an EV. 

“We’re really reaching a tipping point with a lot of new EV models coming out and there’s a lot of funds that are coming in from the private sector that are focusing on charging,” said Sarah Orban Salati, NYPA’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer. “Over the next couple of years, you’ll see a lot of activity and the maturation of the technology, the reliability."

NYPA's effort would supplement a vast network of chargers that already have been installed by municipalities and private industry.

Across Long Island, there are 747 publicly available higher-level chargers, according to Atlas Public Policy’s Evaluate NY database, with 269 of them the superfast variety and 478 so-called level 2 ports, which can charge a car in four to eight hours. Suffolk County has 166 superfast and 325 level 2 chargers to accommodate 17,069 EVs on the road, while In Nassau there are 103 superfast chargers and 153 level 2 ports to accommodate 15,021 EVs, according to Evaluate NY.

Mike Voltz, director of energy efficiency and renewables for PSEG Long Island, said the utility’s goal is to have 450 of the fastest chargers available on Long Island by 2025, while increasing the number of the slower level 2 ports to about 2,000. PSEG helps fund infrastructure upgrades to help businesses install the chargers, from 50% to 100% (if they’re installed in disadvantaged communities) of the cost. There are also commercial rate subsidies and rate discounts up to 40% for residential customers who charge overnight.

“Consumers, I think, are ready for EVs because, particularly if you can charge at home and get 200 miles of range, there’s only an occasional time when you’ll need to stop at a public-charging station,” Voltz said.

NYPA, which has 432 level-2 chargers statewide, said another four-charger, fast-charging station is planned for Bridgehampton next month, and there’s already one in Commack. John Markowitz of NYPA said the state authority is scouting for locations in Nassau County, even as it looks for additional places in Suffolk.

“We’re in discussions with several partners to look at sites in Nassau County, as well as Suffolk, but it’s still early,” he said.

NYPA charges 35 cents a kilowatt hour for its EVolve NY-branded chargers, a slight premium over the roughly 25 cents a kwh LIPA is now charging for residential power.

During a recent charge of a 2022 Nissan Leaf at the Riverhead station, the NYPA charger boosted the EV battery to 92% from 52% in 46 minutes at a cost of $8.74. The chargers use two fast-charging formats that are popular in new non-Tesla EVs — one called CCS and the other ChAdeMO — representing the bulk of cars that are not Teslas, which have their own networks of fast chargers across Long Island.

If EV sales continue at their current pace, more chargers will be needed. The current network of chargers varies widely in price and availability, from free to $20 or more for a full charge, and not all are properly maintained or policed to make sure non-EVs don't park there. At a Cumberland Farms gas station in Manorville, an EVgo superfast port charges a flat fee of $4.95 and an energy fee of 20 cents a minute, or an additional $9 for 45 minutes of charging.

“We’re focused on getting these chargers out there,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said Thursday, after announcing that she had directed the state Department of Environmental Conservation to issue new regulations that will require all new passenger cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs sold in New York State to be zero emissions by 2035.

She noted the state is in line to receive federal grants of $175 million to bolster the charger network, and has committed another $10 million to bolster a state vehicle rebate program of up to $2,000. Chargers, Hochul said, will be widely available. “You have no more excuses," she said. 

Tom Falcone, chief executive of LIPA, which funds the Long Island charging infrastructure programs, said the authority is planning for an  influx on Long Island.

“We’re going to see huge growth in the number of Long Islanders who are going to adopt electric vehicles,” he said Wednesday, adding that LIPA predicts electric demand growing about 40% for transportation alone — to charge electric cars, buses and trucks. “That’s people choosing to not use a gas-powered car but to use an EV — because they’re good cars.”

LIPA is also projecting the current 32,000 EVs on Long Island roads could swell to 180,000 over the next five years.

Falcone said LIPA will keep pace: “If [people] are fighting at charging stations, then we’ll be doing something about it, but we’ve put in place programs that are supposed to stay ahead of it. The idea is that we’re going to meet our customers’ needs.”

Falcone, who drives a Tesla model Y, has his second Tesla on order. White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, who attended Hochul’s EV briefing on Thursday, said he’s on his fourth electric car, but recalled the days of bringing an extension cord with him on longer trips and pleading with shop owners to use their electric outlets. “Those days are over,” he said. He’s got a new Chevy Bolt with 250 miles of range. “I don’t even think about it,” he said of range anxiety.

Drew Biondo, who drives a 2017 Prius plug-in hybrid -- gas and battery -- vehicle and powers up mostly at home for his 9-mile commute to Suffolk County Community College, where he’s communications director, said he’s thinking about a full EV. The only drawback is the 400-mile drive to visit his son who attends college in Virginia. “To find one in Charlottesville is very difficult,” said Biondo, who is also a LIPA trustee. 

His years of scouting for chargers show that “Long Island is getting better, a lot better,” Biondo said. “When I first got the car they were few and far between.”