Equity in the Exurbs: Opportunity, Electrification and the Post-Pandemic Economy
In the wake of the global pandemic, Orange County has become a destination of choice for many large employers in manufacturing and distribution. These industries and workplaces provide stable jobs to residents but are typically located far from the County's population nodes. Many workers rely on carpooling or taxis to commute to work, while access to public transit remains a challenge. For Monroe County's largest private employer, Wegmans, e-commerce orders have more than doubled since the pandemic's onset, increasing truck traffic around its Rochester hub, an area with high asthma rates for vulnerable populations. Downstate, the Red Hook Container Terminal and its surrounding communities are challenged with poor air quality due to the use of generators, standard truck refrigeration unit (TRUs), and marine diesel engines. Each of these challenges presents an opportunity for innovative EV uses that connect workers to jobs and spur economic development, without diminishing air quality.
OCP approached the project team seeking support for abus network connecting disadvantaged communities to the County's new and expanding workplaces. The network will leverage Leprechaun Lines' history providing commuter bus service and NovaBus' all-electric LFSe+ to provide a solution to a longstanding economic and environmental challenge. OCP will also support the deployment of an all-electric refuse truck in collaboration with Goshen-based Interstate Waste, which has contracts with five villages in the County.
In Monroe County, similar strategies will be undertaken in collaboration with Wegmans, which will deploy two Class 8 refrigerated trucks to meet growing pandemic-driven demand from online shoppers. A Western NY Heavy-Duty Charging Corridor at 4 Conway Beam dealers will offer en-route and opportunistic charging for Wegmans and other transitioning fleets.
The intersection of public health and economic opportunity is central to this proposal. Often, growth is predicated on activities that harm the environment and health of the surrounding community. Our solution would upend this paradigm , increasing economic opportunity while decreasing health stressors in these communities.
The solution also reduces the traditional barriers to entry that preclude fleets from investing in BEV - namely the upfront cost and uncertainty around the capacity of the batteries. Up-front costs would be reduced through a battery re-purposing partnership with the Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp (SBIDC), Red Hook Container Terminal (RHCT), and remanufacturer Global Battery Solutions, which will help establish a residual battery value based on real-world applications. The fixed-route of the buse - connecting Newburgh, Port Jervis, and Middletown - and Interstate's refuse truck reduces uncertainty around range and capacity.