Former Gas Station Converts to New Fuel

In the Bulfinch Triangle area of downtown Boston something very cool is happening. A defunct gas station is being given new life as a parking structure equipped with smart grid enabled EVSE/charging stations for electric vehicles (EV).

Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) commonly known as chargers, will supply free juice to EVs while hybrid car owners will receive a 10% discount on parking. Here’s the kicker, owners of cars that achieve less than an EPA rated 15 MPG will have to pay a 10% surcharge, in an effort to move users of the parking facility toward more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Outside of the benefits of former gas stations providing electricity to EVs, it turns out there are zoning benefits to be had by this type of redevelopment, as many areas limit the type of redevelopment that can occur on a former gas station site.

As an EV proponent I love this idea. There are so many great things about it. Just the fact that gas could be considered an “old” fuel source is enticing. Also, from a redevelopment and community appearance standpoint, having an option for redevelopment of an unsightly property is attractive in its own right. While I love this project and the thought put behind it, there are definitely problems with this approach.

First, lets look at “punishing” drivers with vehicles that get poor gas mileage. While it’s crazy that in 2012 people are driving vehicles that don’t achieve more than 15 MPG, I don’t think it’s productive to punish people for their car selection. I think move will probably make a nice statement, but in practice people will just park elsewhere. I do agree with the 10% discount for hybrids. Incentives make much more sense in this situation.

The great thing about a growing infrastructure is that the EVSE units can be placed almost anywhere, and I would love to see some really exciting pairings that can encourage businesses to the prospect of installing them. For example, installing EVSEs at Starbucks locations, shopping malls or B & Bs would get businesses excited about pairing EVSE units with their core business and long- term marketing strategies.

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