Produced by the Department of Media Relations & Publications

Driving an American-Made Alternative-Energy Vehicle

November 26, 2008

Edward Birdie operates a number of large hydroelectric vehicles in renewable facilities located in upstate New York. In this segment, he talks about the importance of the Power Authority and its work in sustainability.

4 Minutes 18 Seconds

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This is Neem Dewji, a student at Lehman College.

Edward Birdie operates a number of large hydroelectric vehicles in renewable facilities located in upstate New York. He works for the New York Power Authority, the nation's largest non-federal public power provider and one of the major generators of electricity in New York. Mr. Birdie showcased his new hybrid electric Ford at Lehman College during the 'Road to Energy Independence' conference organized by the CUNY Center for Sustainable Energy. In this segment, he talks about the importance of the Power Authority and its work in sustainability.



We have one of the nation's largest hybrid and electric vehicle programs. And-- we've also done a tremendous amount of energy efficiency work, even on the campus here-- and especially with other CUNY campuses. That program, we go into the campus and look at the lighting, the air conditioning, the heating facilities, the building envelope-- all of the things that could use energy here on campus.

And then we go in and do an audit and figure out how we can upgrade that with new technology, or improve it, so that the campus uses less energy, and CUNY saves money, the state saves money, and the power plants don't have to work as hard. It's a win-win situation.

And actually, CUNY is one of our biggest customers for this type of work. Although a lot of our projects upstate are hydro-powered, there's still a cost involved. Down here, though, you don't have any hydro-power, so you're burning some sort of fuel. You're burning natural gas mostly, sometimes oil, but mostly natural gas. But, it's still very expensive.


So, the less gas you have to burn, the less money you have to burn. It's literally burning money. That helps. Also, the emissions help. If you can cut down on the amount of emissions going into the air, that helps everybody. So, that's why it matters. It matters a great deal, actually. And then there's another component, that a lot of our energy's imported from other places in the world. And the less we have to do that now, probably the better. This is a power authority car, it's a brand new Ford, hybrid, hybrid electric, hybrid gas, Escape. It's a small SUV, and it's really terrific. I have to tell you. I get to drive a lot of different cars. I drive Priuses, I drive Honda Civics that are hybrids, I drive Toyota Highlanders that are hybrids, this is-- it's a great car, it really is. It's got plenty of pick-up, it's getting about, I don't know, about 27 miles to the gallon right now, around the city, 28 miles to the gallon, which is pretty good for a-- a small SUV this size or a mid-size SUV.

When you press on the accelerator, the electric hyperdrive checks in, and it moves the car forward, it kicks in. Now, the reason for that is, because a gasoline engine, or, an internal combustion engine, a diesel even, is at its most inefficient when it's coming off a dead stop. In other words, as you have to get it up to speed, that's when it's most inefficient, that's when it's burning a lotta gas.


So, these cars, they use the electric drive to get them to ten, 12 or so, miles an hour, and then once the car is rolling, once it has momentum, see, it shuts off. I didn't do anything to it, I'm standing here talking to you outside the car, shut itself off. So, once it gets up to ten or 12 miles an hour, it gets that momentum behind it, then the gasoline engine cuts in automatically. It's all done by computer, and away you go. And you're still getting good gas mileage, because again, it's a smaller engine that would be normally in a car this size.



For information on other sustainability projects at Lehman, visit This is a production of the Lehman College Media Relations Office.