Posted 07.4.2013 in Articles
Public Charge points that don't charge (to fill up)
My dad was fond of saying “there ain't no such thing as a free lunch” whenever I was in a pickle as a result of some childhood foolishness. It's the only time I ever heard a college professor use “ain't” so I gathered he was trying to underscore the point.
“How times change”, I have thought every time I plug in to one of the dozens of free public charge points scattered around my local area and throughout the state. Free fuel! It seems contradictory to say no charge, so I'll use the term gratis. As in, no cost of any kind.
It's kind of amazing how many organizations are interested in giving away free fuel. The Kohl's clothing store across the street from my favorite Starbucks apparently wants EV owners to shop there instead of the Target and Old Navy down the street. The Walgreen's next to my gym evidently would like me to think of them when I need sundry items or a prescription filled. The city of San Francisco is promoting zero carbon EVs powered by its local Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric power plant by offering over a dozen free charging points throughout the city. The greenies over at National Parks Conservation Association would also like to encourage EV use and sponsored a free charging station at Crissy Field in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The installation was placed by Adopt-a-Charger, a nonprofit organization that “accelerates the widespread adoption of plug-in vehicles through the proliferation of public, fee-free electric car chargers which are ‘adopted’ by sponsors.” They also have set up a free charge point at the Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park. Tesla is establishing a nationwide network of fast charging stations that are free to Tesla owners.
I realize that once EVs are in the majority, the free lunch is probably going to end. It's already been announced that the San Francisco charge points will transition to a fee model at some time for example. But in the meantime, free fuel is the automotive deal of the century. Manna from heaven, or if you prefer, fishes and loaves.
It doesn't require divination to locate them either, although a tablet is still helpful. You can find free fuel stations by using iPhone or Android smart phone apps. Just touch a button and pins for all nearby charging stations are dropped on a map. The free chargers show up as white pins, while the fee-based service appear as orange or blue pins.
Apparently there are a lot of diverse interests that would very much like to give my EV a free lunch. And not surprisingly, I've spent more money shopping at Kohl's and Walgreens instead of down the street at the other guys. Hell, I'm thinking about buying a Tesla even though I'd have to sleep in it.
Hmmmm... maybe... that's what... the old man meant...