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Canal Corporation Retrofits Old Tug Boat

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Canal Corporation Retrofits Old Tug Boat
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The New York State Canal Corporation is looking to make some changes to the way they operate. Rather than continuing to use their old diesel engine tug boats, studies are underway to test a more eco-friendly approach. Cara Thomas explains.

UTICA, N.Y. -- Old tug boats are used every day by the New York State Canal Corporation as dredge tenders, to remove buoys and perform maintenance on the Erie Canal.

While their uses have changed over the years, their mechanics have not. Most of them still operate using a diesel powered engine.

"You've got wires, you've got oil, you've got pipes, you've got motors. It would be loud, noisy, grimy," said Brian Stratton, NYS Canal Corporation Director.

But one dredge tender, which was unveiled on Tuesday, has had a few upgrades.

"We are proud to debut this all-electric tender work boat today. Which will be deployed on the Utica section of the Erie Canal," said Stratton.

Russell Owens from New West Technologies, LLC, an engineering consulting firm based out of Yorkville, said, "They were looking for something to transition to that would be less to operate on fuel costs and much lower emissions. And something more sustainable environmentally and economically."

Phase 1 of the project was to complete a feasibility study to determine the benefits of an all-electric system.

"It runs off of New York's power grid for just a few dollars a day. And when the batteries are eventually spent, they can be recycled," said Neil Satterly, from Elco Motor Yachts, LLC in Athens, N.Y.

Phase 2 gets the retrofitted all-electric dredge tender out in the water and see how it holds up compared to a diesel engine boat.

"What we are hoping to find out is if these can be used over the long term. If they can be used in significantly reduce fuel costs, if they will last out on the canal. Many of these tugs are out for hours on end," said Stratton.

The transformation of Tender 4 is in line with Governor's Cuomo's push to increase the use of zero-emission vehicles, transforming New York into a cleaner, greener state.

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