ITHACA, N.Y. — According to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, there are about 56 Teslas registered in Tompkins County.  We’re going to assume those folks are very, very excited.

Tesla, the high-profile electric car maker famous for its autopilot features and eccentric billionaire CEO Elon Musk, has officially unveiled its latest supercharging station in Ithaca. The seven superchargers are located on the southwest side of the city at the South Meadow Square retail complex, on the far end of the parking lot in front of Hobby Lobby.

According to company advertisements, “superchargers deliver energy rapidly, and gradually slow down as the battery fills. Your vehicle automatically alerts you when it has enough energy to continue the trip and with the extensive network of Superchargers along popular routes, charging above 80% isn’t typically necessary.”

According to Tesla forums, the site has been in the works for over a year. The transformer, stations and signage were completed in late July. Tesla customer service was unable to confirm the station was under construction when it was under construction.

A Tesla spokesperson said the charging stations work fine in very cold and snowy conditions, and that all of the stations are internet-connected and serviced. The company also maintains a few “Destination Charging” stations at some of the local hotels, including the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown, the William Henry Miller Inn and La Tourelle. The difference between superchargers and destination chargers is the power delivery. Superchargers are good for road trips and charge faster, destination chargers are good to for getting a charge over a longer period of time.

How useful is any of this to the non-Tesla public? Frankly, not much. The superchargers are for Teslas only, and a charge for 1500 miles costs $100-$132 depending on the model (though it looks that, in an effort to juice sales, new owners of premium models will get free lifetime charges). If we only have 56 Teslas in Tompkins County, then you can reasonably assume this is intended for the wealthy tourist crowd.

Still, the station is the only one between the Thruway, Binghamton and Corning, and the wine tour / college tour types would prefer to get their juice somewhere relatively convenient. Plus, it’s a nice feather in the cap for the county’s clean, green energy goals. Tesla aficionados are quite excited. The Tesla Owners Club of New York State will be hosting a belated Grand Opening Ceremony and Breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.