NYS Parks offers test drives of green, clean fuel vehicles

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – New York State Parks officials are inviting Western New Yorkers to go green when they get behind the wheel and they’re letting everyone try before they buy at a Ride-and-Drive event at the Niagara Falls State Park Tuesday.

Between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., visitors to Lot 3 on Goat Island can check under the hoods and even test drive a wide variety of clean fuel vehicles, including everything from pick up trucks to utility vehicles to construction equipment and passenger sedans. “Natural gas, hybrids, electric hybrids, pure electric vehicles, propane vehicles, we’ve got them all here today,” said Michael Wise, the director of energy and sustainability for the New York State Parks system.

New York State Parks have been using clean fuel vehicles since 2002, and now have more than 1,000 of them in service around the state. Many of those vehicles are being used right here at the Niagara Falls State Park, and Wise says they’ve made a big difference. “These trolleys have displaced more than 40,000 gallons of diesel fuel each year,” Wise told News 4 as he showed off some of the vehicles in the park’s fleet. “We also have our electric vehicles that have replaced gasoline trucks in the park, and our newest edition in our hybrid Chevy Volt.”

“All of our sedans will be replaced with plug in hybrids moving forward,” he added.

Vendors at Tuesday’s event were on hand to help walk people through the different kinds of green transportation technology. Visitors could see a charging station for themselves, check out the solar tech that can help power street lights, and even learn more about state incentives to sweeten the deal for those looking to move to clean fuel vehicles.

A new rebate program in New York offers up to $2,000 off some electric vehicle purchases.

MORE | Click here for more info from NYSERDA on the rebates

Especially for local government agencies looking to upgrade entire fleets, the man in charge of maintaining the fleet at the Niagara Falls State Park says moving to clean fuel vehicles can make a lot of financial sense. “It’s definitely a lot cheaper for the state to run the compressed natural gas maintenance-wise, cost-wise,” said William Aungst, Motor Equipment Supervisor II at the Niagara Falls State Park. “Even the cost of the fuel doesn’t fluctuate like gasoline does so it’s a win-win situation for the state parks.”

Clean fuel vehicles make up 26 percent of the State Parks vehicle fleet, and a project to install a 693 kilowatt solar system at Robert Moses State Park will make it the first energy neutral state park in the nation.

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