In the state of New York, Governor George E. Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno have announced the Saratoga Technology and Energy Park (STEP), which is a new state-of-the-art alternative fuel research facility. According to Governor Pataki, “The Saratoga Technology and Energy Park is an exciting venue for renewable and clean energy companies, and today we take another step to solidify New York’s position as a national and global leader in alternative energy research and development.”
The STEP research center is to serve as an interactive research and development center for companies to develop, test and manufacture alternative fuel products including, but not limited to hydrogen. In fact, hydrogen technology is only one of many alternative technologies to benefit from this center.
The Governor also proposed several energy independence initiatives this year that were approved by the State Legislature including:
– $5 million competitive grant program for developing hydrogen fueling stations throughout the state and conversion of current vehicles to hydrogen vehicles
Elimination of state taxes on renewable fuels
– $10 million competitive grant program to install 400 – 600 renewable fuel pumps at private stations across the state
– Tax credits of up to 50-percent for the cost of purchasing alternative energy fueling equipment for private stations
– Other tax benefits to clean energy companies
– $5 million competitive grant program for alternative energy startup companies
– Elimination of “exclusivity contracts” so that retail service stations are free to buy alternative fuels for resale and not be contractually bound from doing so
Even though this plan is decidedly not hydrogen-centric, it includes hydrogen in the planning process as a viable alternative energy source for the future. This plan also puts in place, at a state level, a real plan with real incentives for leaving gasoline behind and moving to a transportation industry that is based upon alternative fuels.
Some of the other alternative fuels mentioned include ethanol, biodiesel and natural gas (CNG). As this plan falls into place, STEP becomes a stepping-stone to hydrogen cars, hydrogen fueling stations and a hydrogen-based economy. New York is taking the lead in coming up with solid, incentive-based planning that will encourage the rapid growth of hydrogen as the ultimate fuel of choice. As other states follow suit, a domino effect of fossil fuel dependency will start to fall, and fall rapidly.
It’s apparent that New York has learned a lesson from California’s “Who Killed the Electric Car” regulatory fiasco and has decided to use a carrot instead of a stick when it comes to courting new business development in the alternative energy sector.