Paterson seeks cash for alternative fuel lab

A $50 million alternative fuel laboratory at the Saratoga Technology and Energy Park landed on the m

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A $50 million alternative fuel laboratory at the Saratoga Technology and Energy Park landed on the multibillion dollar wish list Gov. David Paterson sent Monday to President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

The lab’s price tag is more than double the $24 million former Gov. George Pataki put on it when he announced the lab project almost three years ago. However, the number of jobs it is expected to create remains unchanged.

Saying “no state has been more severely impacted by this crisis than New York, the home of Wall Street,” Paterson made his case for Obama to include the support in a package of $800 billion in government funding, working families and infrastructure projects. Five other governors also urged Obama, who takes office Jan. 20, to provide states with aid in the economic recovery package his administration is designing.

Closing Paterson’s letter is his funding request for the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Research Lab the state Department of Environmental Conservation would build at the Malta technology park. Paterson said the state needs $38 million in federal funds to commence the Malta project within 24 months.

The 80,000-square-foot, two-story lab will focus on the research and development of alternative fuels, propulsion systems, new vehicle technologies and other greenhouse gas reduction technologies. DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino said the agency would shift 30 workers mostly in Albany from its Division of Air Resources to the Malta facility.

“This is all assuming it’s going to get funded and built,” said Severino.

Pataki initially unveiled plans for a $24 million alternative fuel lab at the technology park in his 2006 executive budget. Severino explained the doubling of the project’s cost since 2006, saying the $24 million was a preliminary estimate made before the facility’s designs were completed.

Paterson told Obama he was “encouraged to hear” that his administration plans to spend $150 billion over a 10-year period for clean energy technologies, which would help create 5 million “green” jobs. The governor noted that New York has $1.4 billion in “ready-to-go” energy infrastructure and green jobs projects. The Malta lab is one of those 210 projects.

“This project has been on the books for some time but without any funding. It’s a shovel-ready project,” said Tom Lynch, the director of external affairs for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

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