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Millions in taxpayer-funded Tesla equipment sitting in storage

Posted at 5:24 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 17:49:20-05

A photo of a tractor trailer pulling out of Tesla's Gigafactory 2 facility in South Buffalo sent to 7 Eyewitness News by a tipster shows a flat bed hauling away large wooden crates.

The tipster claims the truck is carrying millions of dollars worth of taxpayer funded Tesla equipment because the equipment is out dated and no longer used for solar production. The same tipster said the old equipment is being stored at a warehouse in Niagara Falls.

According to Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing Buffalo's Riverbend facility, approximately $50 million in solar manufacturing tools have been relocated. However, E.S.D. claims none of it is obsolete.

"Tesla is making significant contributions to Western New York's economy, and its growth at RiverBend mirrors the ongoing economic renaissance in Buffalo and throughout the region," an E.S.D. spokesperson said. "Tesla is paying for the relocation and storage of underutilized equipment as it ramps up its operations and introduces new production lines. We are seeking alternative uses for the equipment, including making it available to other high-tech businesses that are considering a move or expansion in New York, or selling to interested bidders."

Still, none of this is sitting well with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz who said no one from the state has contacted him about the millions in unused machinery.

"These are the things that are wrong. People look at it and say something bad happened and why was all that equipment bought and now it sits in a warehouse?," said Poloncarz.

It's unclear how long the equipment has been in storage. We filed a "freedom of information request" for specific dates, costs, and data related to the tools. We will update you as we get new information.