LEWISTON — For anyone in Niagara County who wonders what it’s like to own and drive an electric vehicle, today offers your chance to find out.
Gallo Coal Fired Kitchen, 402 Center St., is hosting “Electrify Lewiston” from 3 to 6 p.m. so that visitors can have their questions about EVs answered. EVs will be displayed at Center and 4th streets.
National Grid is a co-sponsor of the event. Visitors will be able to speak with auto representatives, charging installers, e-bike and e-scooter vendors, and EV drivers, to learn more about electric vehicles and where New York State’s transportation plans are heading.
Whitney Skeans, senior program manager of National Grid’s EV Make-Ready Program, said she and Gallo owner Michael Hibbard got together a few months ago to discuss how to help the community learn more about electric vehicles. They are both EV owners; Hibbard has been driving a Ford Mustang Mach-E for the past year.
“With the way that gas prices are right now, it’s almost a no-brainer,” Hibbard said. “For someone like me that lives and works in the village, I don’t put enough miles and don’t travel, so I can go on a single charge for weeks.”
Businesses and organizations participating in Electrify Lewiston include Fuccillo Hyundai of Grand Island, PPR Energy Solutions, Shared Mobility Inc., Sight See Rentals, Solar by CIR, the Tesla Owners Club of New York State, and the Yummmm Truck.
Frequently asked questions about EVs include: How are they priced? What federal and state tax incentives are there? How are they charged at home? How far can a vehicle go on a single charge? How does weather affect it? How else does an EV differ from a regular vehicle?
A similar event took place last year in Buffalo, during National Drive Electric Week, and will return this year on Sept. 24.
“Humans are ‘see it to believe it,’” Skeans said. “We want to bring that in a meaningful way and have a tactile experience.”
Hibbard describes Electrify Lewiston as a mini car show and said if it ends up being successful he would like to do it again.
New York State has set a goal of having 850,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025 and for all new passenger cars and trucks sold to be zero-emission by 2035.
According to the website Plugshare.com, which tracks EV charging station locations around the world, there are stations located at the Lewiston Town Hall, at the Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University, and the Niagara Power Vista. EV stations are also located in downtown Niagara Falls, the towns of Niagara and Porter, Ransomville, Four Mile Creek State Park, Krull Park and Lockport.
Skeans said the Village of Lewiston received a grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to cover the cost of charging station hardware and National Grid would cover the installation cost. Four publicly accessible EV stations are expected to start operating at Academy Park and the Lewiston waterfront within the next six months to a year.
“The economy has relied on tourism and people visiting are coming in their vehicles,” Skeans said. “The EV driver community needs chargers.”
Skeans added that there has been discussion with New York State Parks to get EV charging stations in parks for visitors.
Skeans asserted that by 2030, about 20% of drivers will drive EVs exclusively. That’s a conservative estimate, she added.
“There will be a lot of EV envy once those cars ordered hit the streets, and people experience what it is for themselves,” she said. “It’s a fun thing to drive an EV. It’s fast, responsive, safe, and can be affordable over its lifetime.”