Transportation Goal 2: reduce trip lengths and improve transportation and fuel efficiency
opportunities The transportation sector is the largest consumer of energy in the North Country region and the largest producer of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (40% of total GHG emissions in the region) (E & E 2012). The “greener energy economy” described in the 2011 North Country regional economic development plan will require increased fuel efficiency across all transportation modes and types of vehicles and a shift away from petroleum as the principal transportation fuel source for some vehicles (NCREDC 2010). Alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas (CNG) and propane have the potential to offer economic savings and reduced emissions. However, the potential return on investment is limited, and the use of such fuels is feasible only in areas where natural gas or propane is available and distribution infrastructure can be installed. Partnerships among multiple private and public entities to install one or more CNG fueling stations in Watertown or Plattsburgh might offer fleet operators in those areas payback periods of only a few years (Johnson 2010). The long-term trajectory for the region’s transportation network should entail a steady increase in the use of vehicles powered by locally and renewably generated electricity, corresponding with a decrease in the use of fossil fuels for transportation energy. This is not realistic or attainable in the short term, as the electric vehicles currently available do not meet the travel needs for most North Country residents and businesses and will require significant infrastructure investment.
However, the addition of small-scale electric vehicle charging infrastructure in locations such as universities and tourist destinations is a reasonable present step. Developing and providing broadband for communities in the North Country support transportation efficiency by encouraging telecommuting and limiting the number of trips and miles traveled daily by residents. It also fosters a knowledge economy based on professional services and serves as a tourism draw with added value for hotels. The term "broadband" refers to a high-speed, always-on, connection to the Internet. An example of a successful broadband program is the one implemented in the Town of Keene. The Federal Communications Commission is currently in the process of subsidizing rural broadband services. In 2012, under Round 2 funding provided by Governor Cuomo's Connect NY Broadband Grant Program, the North Country received a combined $3.5 million for the expansion of broadband services within the region. Grant awards went to the North Country Telecommunications Loan Fund, managed by the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC) ($500,000); Hamilton County Broadband Phase II ($1.7 million); and to the Long Lake Next Generation Broadband ($1.4 million).
North Country Region Sustainability Plan