4:12pm

Fri December 2, 2011
Tech

Buffalo's BNMC unveils electric car charging stations

Electric car owners can now plug in their vehicles at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC), thanks to the installation of new charging stations.

There are currently 21 charging stations in downtown Buffalo. But initially, these taxpayer-funded facilities will have very few takers. 

Barry Carr, with the Department of Energy, which helped fund the project, concedes that at the moment, there’s a lack of demand for those facilities. He says federal and state government want to begin building infrastructure, should electric vehicles begin to sell.

“A lot of this is about doing the right thing and keeping the money here in the United States and not sending it out of the country for fuel,” he says.

To encourage that, electric car drivers can plug in their vehicles in for free, a $4 value.

So far, private investors have shied away from sinking money into furthering the tepid electric vehicle market. That gives the government a meaningful role to play, says Carr

“Fortunately, with a lot of this cutting-edge technology, the government is realizing that they’re going to have to throw some money at it to change the culture and the way people think,” Carr says.

Only handful of plug-in cars, like the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, have sold in western New York, although dealerships say waiting lists for the vehicles are growing.

The BNMC hopes to use electric car charging stations to help recruit researchers, doctors and other top professionals. Carr says the stations will help make western New York more attractive to environmentally-minded and progressive medical professionals who are looking for a location to do their work, says Carr.

Additionally, the charging stations will also help solve the “chicken or the egg” problem that consumers face when choosing to buy an electric car, he says.

“Believe me, they’re going to want to see charging stations before they go to the dealership to buy [an electric] car,” Carr says. “If they don’t believe they can save that money and clean up the environment by being able to plug in while they’re at work, shopping, while they’re at the coffee shop or traveling, then they’re not going to buy the vehicles.”