Officials Make Bronze Zero-Emissions Vehicle Pledge

NORTH SALEM, N.Y.--The Town Board recently announced its commitment to consider using zero-emissions vehicles, or ZEVs.

According to the Westchester County Zero Emissions Vehicle Pledge, which was reviewed at two Town Board meetings before it signed on, ZEVs include battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

At the Aug. 22 meeting, the three board members in attendance—Supervisor Warren Lucas, Councilwoman Lisa Douglas and Councilman Martin Aronchick—unanimously approved participating in the campaign.

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North Salem was among the Westchester municipalities invited to support local, regional and statewide efforts to increase the use of ZEVs, with variable commitment levels. A “Gold Pledge,” at tier one, commits a community to make ZEVs 10 percent of its new light-duty fleet purchases and leases by the end of 2020. At tier two, the “Silver Pledge,” communities must commit to making ZEVs 5 percent oftheir  new light-duty fleet purchases and leases by the end of 2020.

The board voted to commit to the third tier, the “Bronze Pledge,” which is a commitment to evaluate opportunities to include ZEVs in future light-duty fleet purchases and leases.

The pledge requires a municipality to review its commitment annually, and to consider adopting a higher purchasing commitment of ZEVs. 

The agreements do not include vehicles used for emergency responses, including police vehicles, Supervisor Warren Lucas said, but rather “limited-distance” vehicles, such as a vehicle used to enforcing parking violations, which he said North Salem does not have.

According to Lucas, the board considered the pledge, but without any limited-distance vehicles, could not commit at a higher level. 

By the measures outlined in the pledge, even if the board were to commit to the tier one pledge and bought an entirely new fleet of police vehicles within the next three years, the pledge would technically only commit North Salem to 0.7 of one ZEV.

Lucas said, however, the board is willing to consider future opportunities.

“Bronze says we’ll continue to look at it, so that’s what we’re going to do,” he said..

The town’s seven police vehicles are exempt from the pledge, according to the guidelines. Lucas said police can’t risk needing to stop and recharge in a time-sensitive or emergency situation. Additionally, Lucas said, after looking into ZEVs and consulting with neighboring municipalities, the board has concerns about the short battery lives of the vehicles during the cold-weather months. Other municipalities have reported that heating a vehicle can significantly reduce the battery life, Lucas said.

The highway superintendent uses a town-owned vehicle; however, he needs a vehicle with some clearance, such as an SUV, to conduct site visits, often in rough terrain. ZEVs are not generally designed for those purposes, Lucas said.

The only person in North Salem’s government whose vehicle might comply with the guidelines of the pledge is the town assessor, he said, but she uses her own car for business purposes.

County Legislator Francis Corcoran, who attended the Aug. 22 meeting, praised the board for its commitment.

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