Stuck Fast In The Past – Stuck Up – Or Both?

Over the last few weeks, there have been several reported instances from all over the USA of a minority of pickup truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Supercharger stations (aka Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)/Electric Vehicle charging stations.  This relatively small number of incidents has generated much attention on various social media outlets and from EV owners groups/clubs and other automotive-focused news outlets and on YouTube.

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At first, I was hesitant to write anything about any of these instances because, in a way, writing about them is drawing attention to the small number of individuals who commit these crimes. However, I decided that – as a previous truck, 4WD, and current sport-utility vehicle and EV owner – it is my obligation to report on these thoughtless incidents and put these narrow-minded knuckle-dragging dunderheads in their places with the facts before they destroy the reputations of respectable pickup truck owners everywhere.

The Problem

For background I will share a few of these incidents below;

This is the first high profile incident that gathered nation-wide media attention – and from my home state no less.

https://electrek.co/2018/12/24/tesla-supercharger-anti-tesla-pickup-truck-drivers/

Then this one…

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More non-random acts of stupidity.

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Really people?

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…even more madness…

Photo from Heniz Baumann of the Tesla Model 3 Owners Club on Facebook

…and this…

From the I’ve Been ICED twitter account.

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The revealing thing is that the entire parking lot was practically empty…

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It seems obvious to me this was an intentional act directed at Tesla and/or EV’s in general.  The other obvious thing is the driver of the truck either did not care or was possibly not aware they were openly advertising who they were with the conspicuous company magnetic sign on the truck door – what a great invitation by EV owners (and others) to report their team member’s thoughtless EV charger blocking action to the company…oh and what a great reason to NEVER use the services of that company in any way.  Good work Navarro & Wright, what a great way to make a name for yourself…

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In another thread on Twitter, Nascar driver and Tesla owner Leilani Munter garnered some notice when Elon Musk and many others spoke up about this issue;

@LeilaniMunter careful charging in Hickory. The ignorant people are aware of us https://t.co/pqgc3uLsLY— Mike Hoffman (@McHoffa) December 23, 2018

This is scary. I’ve been coal-rolled in my Tesla by several trucks in NC, the drivers were hostile. If you don’t know what it is google “Stephen Colbert Coal Rolling.” One day these conflicts will end very badly. @Tesla @hickorypd @StephenAtHome @cleanairNC @cleanenergyorg @CMPD https://t.co/Gd6S6SOhNB— Leilani Münter (@LeilaniMunter) December 23, 2018

Yet another good example of what not to do.

Recently from not far from my home a Hummer driver intentionally blocks two Tesla Superchargers as a “prank” – what a total wanker.

From this blogger’s point of view these actions do not appear to be accidents since the Tesla Supercharger stations are;

1 – Very visible being lit up with red lights on a white background.

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2 – Well marked as TESLA charging stations.

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3 – They are most often located in remote parts of the parking areas so as not to take up available parking spots for all other vehicles near the entrances of the nearby establishments where they are found.

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In other words – in order for you to block a Tesla Supercharger charging station with your vehicle you would need to either;

1. Drive a Tesla and know where the station is because you have been there before – or allow your Tesla’s navigation system to guide you to it for a charge.

or

2. You do not own a Tesla and have made a premeditated decision to locate the Supercharger station for the purpose of blocking it with your non-electric vehicle for whatever bizarre load of jollies that action would give you and/or your childish comrades.

or

3. You are a new Tesla owner/driver/borrower/renter who is unfamiliar with Tesla/EV charging etiquette and are unaware that after the car finishes charging you should kindly move it to a nearby standard parking space so the next person will have access to the charging infrastructure.

or

4. You are a Tesla owner on the bleeding edge of the lunatic fringe of Tesla/EV ownership. Perhaps you feel that – because you have the means to own a Tesla, that you are somehow above/better than everyone around and you now have the right to park your car in the charging space for as long as you like.  If this is your reasoning – then you, my friend, are an entitled little bully and are no better than those who block access with their garish toy trucks. In my experience this type of Tesla/EV owner is rare, yet I have heard reports that they do exist.

So, aside from the occasional parking accident by the un-observant or uneducated – there is no real reason and no real excuse for parking a non-Tesla vehicle in a Tesla charging station.

Misunderstandings Do Happen

As stated earlier, sometimes EV owners who are new to the world of EV’s and have not learned the appropriate EV charging etiquette might mistakenly leave their EV parked in an EV charging space for much longer than needed after the car’s charge is complete – I did this a few times early on and quickly learned my lesson.  Most of these infractions are innocent mistakes that can easily be remedied with gentle education of the new EV driver either with a few words or an informational card/flyer left for when the driver returns.

However, some entitled EV drivers seem to be treating EV spaces as a pass to free parking, not at all caring about the other EV drivers who need to stop and fill up their “electron tanks” so they can get on down the road. In the following photo, we see a Tesla parked and not charging in an EV only charging space – how rude.

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This is the same as filling up your gas tank, hanging up the nozzle, and walking off.

I have observed this practice on several occasions and when I do I always leave a nice note in the hopes of educating the parking perpetrator on the errors of their ways. In the above case, part of the error may be in the wording of the signage on the wall beyond the Tesla and it reads – “Electric Vehicle Parking Only.” This wordage may give some EV newbies the idea that they are able to park their EV here even when it is not charging. That is just not the case. and is bad planning on those who chose the signs for this site. Luckily, many charging stations now have signs that read “EV Parking only while charging.” Along with this fact many EVSE units will continue to charge you money if your car remains plugged in after the charging session has ended as an expensive reminder to be courteous and move your car so the next person will be able to charge.

Most EV’s and EVSE come standard with internet connectivity.  This allows them to be easily configured to send a text to your mobile device when your vehicle has finished charging, therefore, you have no excuse not to move your car thereby opening the space up for the next EV needing a charge.

Bad Parking Planning

On several occasions, I have encountered non-EV’s blocking charging stations – most frequently (in my experience) at this downtown EV charge point supplemented with solar power.

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While these non-EV vehicles are directly blocking one of the chargers, at least they are following the directions printed on the pavement that state “EV Only.” In reality, this type of EVSE blocking will not limit the ability to charge an EV since the power leads are usually long enough to reach an EV parked nearby.  However, the limiting factor here would be available parking.  There are three EV chargers and only two marked EV parking spaces so only 2 EV’s would be able to charge when ICE vehicles are parked in the non-EV marked parking spaces.  It seems that common sense would dictate that if you install an EVSE for EV’s, then the number of charge points and parking spaces should be equal.

How some Tesla owners may choose to handle EVSE blocking situations – but it is not at all recommended by this blogger…unless there is no other option I suppose.

Obviously, Teslas do have more than enough power and torque to handle any situation.


Another fun option for Tesla owners to get rid of EVSE blockers – this one is in Chinese but no translation is needed 🙂 Follow the link to view the video

https://twitter.com/ShanghaiJayin/status/1107320205326192640

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The Question

So, what do I, as a previous truck/SUV owner and current Electric Vehicle owner and driver of over 5 years, what do I think of this recent practice of some truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Superchargers with their pickup trucks?

Before I get into my answer I must first note that it is in my humble opinion, based on over 35 years of driving and over 50 years of life experience, that the perpetrators of these thoughtless acts are a very small percentage of overall truck owners.

So let’s call them the: lunatic fringe.

The vast majority of pickup truck owners I know and have met are good, respectable people that own and drive pickup trucks because they serve a utilitarian purpose in their lives – you know, hauling stuff, pulling stuff, doing work, and having fun outdoors.

These good, respectable truck owners would never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source and would never think to use their vehicle as a bullying tool/weapon in the attempt to make some sort of misguided personal, political, or anti-environment statement.  They just drive their trucks and use their trucks – and that’s it.

I say this because not only is it common sense and fully supported by evidence – but I also have a bit of experience in this area.  In my over 35 years of driving, I have owned, driven, and used the following vehicles:

My first truck – a 1978 Chevrolet C-10 step side.

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My first 4WD vehicle – a 1965 Land Rover Series 2a 88″ – before the restoration.

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After I personally restored it.

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On the trail with friends.

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It was a wonderful 4×4, and my favorite, that I drove daily and used for the purpose it was intended – an all-terrain, go anywhere utility vehicle – truly the world’s best 4x4xfar (that may change when  Bollinger Motors starts selling their game-changing B1 and B2 SUT’s to eagerly awaiting truck-o-philes everywhere 🙂

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I sold my first Land Rover as it was just too nice to drive on a daily basis and then purchased a very well used 1966 Land Rover Series 2a 109″ ExMoD Field Ambulance.  I modified this classic old aluminum workhorse into an overland camper and drove it for several years as my daily driver and on many on and off road-trip adventures, wildlife study and conservation expeditions. When gas prices started to climb I was forced to sell it to continue paying for my college education…

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…then came the 1987 Suzuki Samurai – a wonderful little 4×4 that took me into remote areas for my wildlife conservation work and more.

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It was a great little 4×4 that served me well for almost a decade.  It was my daily driver, my wildlife study and conservation vehicle, and my firewood acquisition vehicle making use of the custom winch and bumper to often pull trees weighing more than the vehicle out of the woods for later processing into firewood.

And it was fun, fuel efficient, and reliable off-road…but after over 250,000 miles it began to show serious signs of age so it found a new home and along came…

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…a 1999 Toyota 4Runner – a great 4×4 that served me well.

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And finally, my most recent 4WD is a 2013 Honda Pilot SUV (random internet photo) that we use for hauling the family around and hauling/pulling loads.

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As you can see I love the utility of trucks and 4WD vehicles and I would love to have another one day to make my life and my job easier and more productive.  As soon as the all-electric trucks, vans, and 4WD’s hit the market – I will be driving one daily as my company/commuting and utility/wildlife conservation outreach vehicle – and that day is approaching faster than you may think.

Back to the Question

With all that out of the way, let’s get back to the original question:

What do I, a seasoned truck/4×4 owner, driver and aficionado of many years AND an Electric Vehicle driver of over 5 years think of the recent practice of some pickup truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Supercharging stations?

Tesla’s at a Supercharger – photo credit Tesla.com

I could relate to you how unbelievably childish, small-minded, knuckle-dragging, infantile, non-sensical and stupid it is while tossing out many colorful metaphors, however, I will refrain from that level of thinking and offer my answer in the form of the following thought experiment:

What would YOU do, as a gas/diesel vehicle driver looking to fill up your vehicle’s fuel tank with refined hydrocarbons, if you arrived at your filling station of choice only to find an EV driver intentionally blocking your gas/diesel fuel pump with their electric vehicle?

Hopefully, you would think the same way I would: either they had made a mistake or…they may be potentially unstable and may even be dangerous – especially if they insulted and taunted you with vulgar language and gestures as some of the perpetrators are being reported to have done.

Why would you think these things?

The common sense answer:

The evidence is blocking the fuel pump.

Due to the obvious fact that the owner of the pump blocking vehicle is driving a vehicle that does not ever need access to the fuel source it is blocking, then evidence and common sense would dictate the following:

1: They may have blocked the pump accidentally.  After they have been respectfully informed of their error, they should not hesitate to move their vehicle to the correct nearby charging point.  However, being an EV driver I would highly doubt that this would be the usual scenario as EV drivers do not often make the mistake of blocking petroleum-based fuel pumps if the vehicle they are driving is theirs and if they are at all familiar with it.
(If you are driving a vehicle of any kind you had better take some time to read the instructions and become familiar with it – all the more so if it is a state of the art high-speed low drag Tesla aka: Intergalactic SpaceBoat of Light and Wonder  or any other EV.)

Similarly, the vast majority of respectable gas/diesel vehicle drivers would never think to intentionally park their vehicles in front of EVSE stations and/or intentionally vandalize EVSE units and/or intentionally taunt/insult drivers whose vehicles operate on fuels other than gas/diesel…until recently that is…

2: They may have committed this pump blocking act intentionally.  Furthermore, if they were taunting/insulting you or your vehicle/fuel of choice with rude and/or hateful colorful metaphors, it would be even more evidence that their actions were not accidental and they might not be entirely stable individuals – you know, those on the lunatic fringe.

How should you respond?

The safe approach would be to er on the side of caution and be very wary of their actions because no thinking, rational person with even a gram of common sense and decency would ever commit such a blatant act of intentional bullying unless they had an over-sized, unstable, reactionary chip on their shoulder and/or were intentionally looking for a dangerous confrontation.

Suggestion: before you take matters into your own hands in regards to option 2 you should be absolutely sure the situation was not an accident by a person unfamiliar with driving an electric vehicle – possibly something like in the video below where the driver may have  borrowed the car from a friend and/or the owner of the car was playing a joke on them.

Once you rule out an accidental parking maneuver, the next step would be to report the thoughtless, possibly intentional fuel pump blocking action to the nearest authorities, step back to a safe location, and wait for the police/tow truck to arrive to remove the disruptive perpetrator(s) – be they blocking a gas, diesel, or an electric fuel pump.

ICEing

Those of us that drive plug-in electric vehicles refer to the act of accidentally or intentionally blocking charging stations with Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicles – “ICEing” or being “ICEd.”   

For clarity: ICE = Internal Combustion Engine

Most of the time, when an ICE driver blocks an EV charging station it is an honest mistake made by someone either in a hurry or simply not being observant enough to see all the signs denoting the space as EV use only.

These innocent people should be excused from their mistake and politely educated either in person if possible, or if they are not available, with an informational flyer placed under the windshield wiper – many EV drivers carry these for events such as these.

As an EV driver I encounter ICED EVSE stations frequently – the most recent incident, I witnessed a few days ago while I was sitting in my EV while it was plugged into a Level 2 EVSE and charging during a heavy rain shower. As I sat there in the rain charging I watched as an ICE driver pulled hastily into the parking space opposite mine, jumped out, and ran off into the rain.  It seemed to me that the driver had absolutely no idea that he had parked in an EV charging location.  He was in a hurry and failed to notice the signs, the two EVSE units…and the EV parked and charging 10 feet away. 

In another recent incident I stopped in a local parking garage to plug in my EV only to find both charging spaces ICED…despite the fact that there were several empty parking spaces in the garage…

…and despite the signs and EVSE (charging station) on the wall in front of them – there they sat blocking access to the charging station and neither of these vehicles were plug-in electric vehicles. I left respectful notes on their windshields and then encountered the owner of the Prius. She was very nice and seemed totally unaware of her mistake. Hopefully in the future she will be more observant and leave the EV spaces for the EV’s (If you want to get technical: it’s not like there is a shortage of non-EV parking spaces, it is the other way around – there are plenty of standard parking spaces with EV charging locations remaining in the minority – which means blocking them creates an even bigger negative impact – so please, just don’t do it.)

I believe what happens in many ICEing events is that many drivers are just not very observant of anything outside of their comfortable frame of reference. They do not see the signs and the equipment – they just find an open slot, park their car and run.  Maybe someone needs to come up with an ICE vehicle detector that, when deployed in EV charging spots, will detect the hydrocarbon-based fuels/lubricants/exhaust used in ICE vehicles and, when detected, trigger highly noticeable strobe lights and illuminated signage indicating to the ICE vehicle driver their mistake. If their mistake is not rectified, the system would automatically either: identify their vehicle sending them a ticket and notify parking authorities so they can move the blocking vehicle, and in repeat offenders/intentional blockers – place a wheel lock on the vehicle and have it impounded.

This past winter I encountered yet another form of ICEing…with real ice.

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The evidence suggested that the snow removal crew chose to pile up the snow in both of the marked EV charging spaces.  This is as irresponsible as blocking the spaces with an ICE vehicle especially since there was ample space nearby on the grass surrounding the parking area to pile the snow where ALL drivers – no matter the fuel that powers their vehicles – would then have access to parking. Yes, it may have been an accident, but due to the perfect blocking of the only two EV charging spaces in the parking area – I cannot help but wonder if the individual(s) that did this, did it on purpose possibly as some sort of statement against EV’s, their charging infrastructure and/or the people that drive them.  Hmmm, I wonder if these snow pushers also block “handicap” spaces with huge piles of snow…

Accidental ICEing aside, the thoughtless act of intentionally blocking electric vehicle charging stations with ICE vehicles (or blocking gas pumps with EV’s for that matter) should never be excused and should always be reported to the authorities as soon as possible in the attempt to stop the madness before it gets out of hand.

Before reporting the perpetrators, it is probably a good idea to attempt to covertly get a photograph(s) of the perp’s vehicles/license plates and the perp’s themselves so you will have evidence to hand over to the authorities. In my opinion, it is not ever a good idea to confront these types of people as they are often aggressive and volatile and may even be intoxicated and/or have dangerous or deadly weapons in their vehicles or on their persons.

The best bet in these situations is to just step back to a safe place and watch the action happen when the police,  tow trucks, and news crews arrive.

EVSE Vandalism Issues 

EVSE blocking is not the only issue.  Most recently a Tesla Supercharger in Utah was vandalized when some lowlife intentionally tried to drill out the charge connector and cut the charging cable – WTF, really people?  How would you like it if I intentionally tried to cut your gas/diesel hose or intentionally vandalized the fuel pump handle that you needed to fuel your vehicle? Grow up people – or crawl back under your rock and stay there.

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-supercharger-attack-vandalism-drilled-charging-plugs-cut-cables/

I have encountered EVSE vandalism on a few occasions in my area.  This is one of the most recent – a quick charger’s screen was damaged by an unknown assailant.  The crack pattern of the glass suggests a blow from what may have been a hard object such as possibly a rock or hammer or maybe even a fist.  The height of the screen from the ground and distance from the parking space places the EVSE’s screen too far out of range for this to be an unfortunate parking accident.  This suggests to me that this may have been a deliberate act of vandalism.

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Help is on the horizon. Tesla vehicles now come equipped with “Sentry Mode*” that uses many of the vehicle’s external/internal cameras to record all goings on in the vicinity of the vehicle.  I am sure this feature will be very useful in capturing many perpetrators in action be they EVSE blocking lunatic fringe pickup truck drivers, would be thieves, or vandals with a misplaced score to settle with an inanimate object and the progress it represents.   *Read more about sentry mode:  https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/14/sentry-mode-keeps-watch-over-your-tesla-while-it-is-parked/?fbclid=IwAR2QlxVG6ggeQuqotvx88D-tHBwtSm1Mtjhx0kPkA3z3tnrDDvAQYdkhYEQ


The Law

It is unlawful to block an EVSE charging station in at least 8 States and many more cities/towns.  For the details visit: https://pluginsites.org/plug-in-vehicle-parking-legislation-reference/

In many of these places, those ICE drivers who block an EVSE will receive a hefty fine. Raleigh, NC is a great example where EVSE ICEr’s are fined $50 for blocking a charge point – thank you Raleigh!  In my opinion, this should be the rule everywhere and any fines collected could be used to improve roads and infrastructure for everyone no matter what they choose to drive.

Source:  https://insideevs.com/one-charging-spot-generated-27000-fines-ice-drivers/

And now, from one of my favorite YouTube personalities, Robert Llewellyn of Fully Charged Show , comes this great video illustrating that the phenomenon of ICEing EVSE stations is not just a quandary in the States…

Hmmmmm….all this EV charging station blocking makes me wonder if – way back in the early day s of the internal combustion engine – did some horse and wagon owners who felt threatened by the gas-powered future, seek out and block fuel pumps?

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I seriously doubt it because I am pretty sure they had something called common sense and morals.

A bit of a tangent for a bit of a comparison.

Blocking EV charging points is similar to the uncaring, malignant practice that some call “coal rolling.” This is a practice where some truck owners – a very small percentage overall and yet another lunatic fringe group – illegally modify their diesel pickup trucks to – on-demand – emit clouds of black diesel smoke through over-sized exhaust pipes.

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These “coal rollers” then often use their illegally modified vehicles to intentionally target pedestrians, police officers, bicyclists, runners, groups of people on the sidewalk, and people who drive hybrid and electric vehicles.  They intentionally align their vehicle’s often grossly over-sized exhaust orifice in the direction of their target and flip the switch vomiting copious amounts of dirty diesel smoke all over their innocent targets. If you are interested in seeing evidence of this stupidity – just input “coal rolling” or “rolling coal” into a YouTube/Google search and you will find the video evidence shared by the polluting perpetrators…and you will also find some great memes revealing just how ridiculous the act of coal rolling truly is, such as this one.

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What is a Darwin Award?

For whatever bizarre reasons, this small number of fringe dwellers seem to be proud of their illegal atmospheric littering escapades and wish to share their madness with the world.

If a combination of common sense, the law, and natural selection have their way (and they will), then their actions suggest that it will not be long before these polluted perpetrators will be weeded out of the population and the bones of their illegally modified machines will soon be covered in rust fossilizing in the junkyard – or better yet, melted down and recycled into a Tesla, Bollinger, Atlis or any other EV, a bicycle, wind turbine, or solar array.

The act of intentionally modifying one’s vehicle with a driver operated “defeat device” thereby allowing it to bypass the factory emission controls for the purpose of emitting visible clouds of smoke, and then intentionally targeting people with that hazardous particulate-laden smoke (diesel exhaust is a documented carcinogen by the CDC, the  WHO, and the ACA*) is not only illegal in many areas but is an uncaring, thoughtless act of bullying that should not go unpunished. Recently, I was instructed by a State Patrol officer that targeting and “rolling coal” on a person(s) is considered a form of assault and should be reported to the authorities by calling 911 and reporting the incident making sure to get the make, model and, if possible, the license plate number, road name and direction of travel of the offending vehicle.

*Sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nioshtic-2/20000266.html
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/cancer/npotocca.html
https://www.iarc.fr/media-centre-iarc-news-58/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5352477/
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diesel-exhaust-and-cancer.html

Read my earlier post about the time I was almost “coal rolled” in my EV.

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Possible Motives Behind The Madness

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Insecurity.

It is possible that these intentional charging station blockers (and “coal rollers”) may suffer from personal or peer group driven insecurities such as toxic masculinity and possibly even what some may call “short man syndrome” – or both.  They may be using their huge, overly modified, often garishly loud, black smoke vomiting toy trucks as an attempt to compensate for some emotional or even physical quality in which they perceive themselves to be lacking.

Machismo/hormones.

Another good possibility is that many of these pickup truck drivers are simply just children.  Children who have only recently felt the call of their surging primal hormones driving them to make a place for themselves within their world and to seek out a mate in the only way they know how.

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In their world, all the other young males (and some young females) in their tribal cliques drive large, noisy, dirty pickup trucks.  This being the only courting technique their childish minds can interpret must mean that it must be the preferred and accepted way to entice a mate into their arms.  In other words – driving a large, loud, jacked up, overly modified, polluting truck and insulting others with your venomous vitriol might just be the mating call of your sub-species.

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What on earth???

I speak from some short-lived experience in this area. When I was a teenager I briefly fell into a similar clique where I tried to fit in and impress by modifying my first truck with a roll bar, light bar, lift kit, loud stereo, and “glasspack.” (No, not the truck pictured above) Needless to say, it did not work for me – in any way. This was primarily because of my extreme nerdiness that was of such an outward and obvious magnitude that no amount of expensive modifications to my vehicle, myself, piles of money, or purchased trinkets would have ever made me “cool” and popular with the “in” crowd.  At the time I was just trying very hard to fit in – somewhere – anywhere – and I had fallen to peer pressure.  Lucky for me, after about 6 weeks my brain won the fight and I grew out of my fitting in phase.  The glasspack came off and the stock muffler went back on in favor of the stereo because enjoying my music was more important to me than the garishly flatulent exhaust noise.  I also removed the lift kit as it ruined the truck’s handling and fuel mileage and then later sold the roll bar since all it really did was take up space in the bed. Some people grow up, some never do.

Envy

It is also possible, although remote, that many of these folks are just envious and jealous of the awesome Tesla’s and other EV’s and they secretly want one really, really bad – but they could never admit that fact to their fellow pickup truck driving tribe members. To do so would mean ridicule and possibly even exile from their tribe. So to save face they take out their misplaced frustrations in the only way they know how – they block Tesla charging stations and insult the very thing they are secretly in love with and pining away for. It is very much like the jealous little bully in the sandbox breaking the other children’s toys because they are not his.

Don’t be the bully.

Tribalism aka Us vs. Them

Another motive that may drive these individuals to act is simple tribalism. Related and intertwined with the previous motives, tribalism is like the proverbial tick – dug in deeply.  Like the tick, they may be so “dug in” to their tribe and their us vs. them outlook on life that nothing will ever be able to tear them out of their ancient tribal tendencies to do a thing.  All the others in their tribe are doing that thing so that obviously must mean that thing is the correct and acceptable thing to do – even if all the evidence is against it. You know the type: “My people have always done it this way and I do not believe all the evidence against it so I’m just going to do it anyway!”

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Fear of Change.

Also tied to the previously mentioned topics, the fear of change is very powerful and it keeps many from ever progressing.  Some of these individuals may do these things out of fear of inevitable change, fear that their comfort zone will be violated. Fear that the status quo will be disturbed. Fear they will lose their toy trucks to new technology, or maybe fear that “the government” will try to take them away and force them to drive electric cars. The fact is that no one, especially the government – is going to force anyone to drive an electric car – it is more the opposite. The way the system is currently set up favors and promotes the status quo. It promotes vehicles that run on fossil fuels even though all of the available evidence suggests the continued rate we are burning through fossil fuels is harming the very environment we all rely on for our very survival – but that is another story for a different day.

Your Vehicle Is A Tool – Not A Weapon.

A rock, a stick, a knife, a gun, a snowball, a brick, a spoon, a ham bone, a sack of ‘taters, and yes, a car or pickup truck – are only as dangerous and/or potentially harmful as the person controlling them.

Hopefully, if that person has been lucky enough to receive the following;

  • good and positive moral training as a child from parents and mentors
  • respect and trust of their elders – but not blind trust or blind faith – those are very dangerous
  • an unbiased and well-rounded education with a focus on the importance of facts, evidence and critical thinking skills
  • quality time outdoors in nature learning how all things are connected and developing a respect for all living things and for the environment that gives us all life
  • an understanding of the scientific method and how to use it
  • a purposeful separation from lunatic fringe extremist hate, religious, and political groups and training in how to recognize them
  • training into how to use the internet appropriately in order to take advantage of the powerful research tool that it is, while intentionally avoiding the deep quagmire of dead-ends, lies, filth, misinformation, manufactured FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) and divisive hate that is also the internet
  • the appropriate science-backed training in the appropriate use of their chosen tool(s)
  • the appropriate licenses and certifications to operate that tool or tools in accordance with the laws set by their state/national governments
  • a good dose of common sense

Then hopefully, that person, when they are released into the wild to wield any of the before mentioned tools – including pickup trucks – will use them wisely for the purpose intended and not ever as weapons of hate or malice to be directed at others – even if they do not agree with their driving, energy or life choices.

No matter the motive, the truth of the matter is this: electric trucks (and cars, sport utility vehicles, airplanes, helicopters, motorcycles, buses, boats, bicycles) are here and more are coming fast – and they will eventually replace the majority of fossil burners simply because they are better, faster, safer, stronger, more reliable, less expensive to fuel and maintain, and more convenient than the old smoke spewing, oil leaking, dinosaur juice burners of yesteryear. Yet, even with all those facts we still must deal with human nature, and brains that evolved during the stone age. With human nature and stone age brains, we are forced to contend with all of the above factors which work together to slow the forward march of progress…

march

Luddites and complacency aside, nobody will ever take your beloved truck (or car) away from you (unless you intentionally break the law for your own personal gain – then you deserve to have your vehicle impounded and your license revoked). 

Your favorite old car and truck and all the previously produced petroleum burners will always be around (if you take care of them) and will always be available for you if you want them – just like horses, buggies, and wagons are still available – nobody took them away.  These beautiful, classic cars and trucks of yesteryear will always have a place in history and they should as they are a beautiful part of the complex story that brought all of us to this day in time.  They are a testament and a tribute to all the inventors, engineers, makers, scientists, doers and adventurers who had an idea for something better, worked hard to make it happen – and then changed the world.  Yes, their creations were based upon and relied upon the internal combustion engine and petroleum-based fuels – back then they were the only viable power-plant option. It is a fact that these fuels and these machines have allowed the human species to expand across the globe at an unbelievable pace, light our homes, farms and cities, grow more food to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, develop better health care, science, and systems that allow us to live longer than ever before, explore the depths of the oceans, and the far reaches of outer space. In many unique ways, these creations and these ancient fossil-based fuels may be the very reason – or at least have played a key part – in the very existence of many of us alive today. We owe a great debt of thanks to fossil fuels and to the beautiful vehicles of yesteryear.


However, as with all things, as with all seasons, change is the way of things. Now is the time for change, the time for growth, the time for progress – it is time to stop burning things for fuel. Like the horse and wagon before them, the majority of these beautiful, earlier modes of transportation worked well for a time, but eventually faded away because something better, faster, stronger, lower maintenance, less stinky and less visibly polluting, was invented – think how fast the Ford Model T displaced the horse – and how the majority of the population quickly accepted the change and adopted it because it was the best option.

horses-and-cars
Photo source: https://www.icis.com/asian-chemical-connections/2018/12/internal-combustion-engines-car-ownership-to-quickly-head-the-way-of-horses-and-carts/

The transition from internal combustion to electric transportation will be very similar.

Ponderings

Another thing to ponder is this; how long before our gas/diesel burners (if you are still driving one by ~2025) become a wonderful weekend novelty like the horse and wagon/buggy/Ford Model T is today?

How long before they become a cherished piece in a museum collection…or worthless rusting, forgotten hulks covered in weeds in backyards?

oldcarsinkudzu

How long before ICE drivers are treated the same way litterbugs (and smokers) are often treated today and end up catching all sorts of flack from those around them every time they drive their old fossil burner because everyone around them is aware, accepts, and understands that toxic emissions from driving fossil fuel powered vehicles harm all life forms and nature – the very life support system that gives all of us life?

Before some of you start ranting in the comment section about how much pollution is emitted from building/charging/driving EV’s – watch the below video for the facts:

More sources: https://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-and-evs-are-cleaner-than-ever

and

https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/11/Cleaner-Cars-from-Cradle-to-Grave-full-report.pdf

How many years will it be before insurance companies start raising their rates on older vehicles because those older vehicles lack any modern autonomous safety features – such as automatic emergency braking, back up cameras, “Autopilot” and “Sentry Mode” – features that make newer vehicles so much safer to drive for the driver and for everyone else on the roads – thereby making older vehicles a dangerous liability to drive – for the driver and others around them – which therefore means it is now much more expensive to insure and to drive?

If you do not believe autonomous “autopilot” safety features will become popular on vehicles or if you do not trust them – think again and watch this amazing video of the evidence.

Video source: https://insideevs.com/video-tesla-stop-itself-avoid-horrific-crash/?fbclid=IwAR0wOlo6oIudLjlfdZCEoaI3KP0W0bQYWULDWuY3cPZg9-19ECRqO8p5Fbg

And yet another one…

Video source: https://electrek.co/2019/02/05/tesla-owner-autopilot-saves-life-swerving/

Insurance companies are starting to offer discounts for autonomous features on vehicles: https://futurism.com/insurance-companies-offering-discounts-tesla-drive-itself

A very smart and enlightening commentary from Answers with Joe on the automotive autonomy/EV revolution:

When will ICE vehicles become stranded assets we are unable to sell because nobody wants them anymore as their fuel source, maintenance, and insurance costs are so expensive?

When will our beloved, classic old gas burners be converted to electric drive and achieve a second life as an electrified classic

or…become as obsolete as the slide rule, the film camera, the 8 track, VHS, and cassette tapes, Blockbuster video, Kodak, phone booths, CRT computer monitors and console TV’s…in other words – when will they go the way of the dinosaurs that power them?

A recent article by Zachary Shahan of Clean Technica predicts that the EV disruption has already started and the major disruption will begin very soon. A great comparison between the EV and other disruptive technologies can be seen in this chart.   

It will not be long dear reader, it will not be very long….

41456647_10215692000905783_4559832526075461632_o

…this is not a question of if, it is a question of when.

More evidence of the EV revolution that is upon us: https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/03/hints-of-ev-revolution-rising/?fbclid=IwAR2r9YZ7Mo9Yhh3RwoivSF1VzCE4x7EjCoMUlGw3_fXcANXoZNEYxRvSpiU 

…more powerful evidence: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4225153-evs-oil-ice-impact-2023-beyond

…and even more evidence: https://www.npr.org/2019/02/16/694303169/as-more-electric-cars-arrive-whats-the-future-for-gas-powered-engines?fbclid=IwAR2V6ePb1qnq8a9VSuWwbLYqEUFfa3xWXkc3PpVEKBWAYA5Zu6crVxh0kdE

…and even more electrifying evidence: https://cleantechnica.com/2018/10/27/us-electric-car-range-will-average-275-miles-by-2022-400-miles-by-2028-new-research-part-1/

…and yet even more: https://insideevs.com/electric-ford-mustang-crossover-go-like-hell/?fbclid=IwAR0w9McYNEScnKfTgVHaK9oMo7YcQlyO-Gdx2jO1FpcfYNYBGv_OkNmsFLM

What else is Ford working on?

A great example of the fast-growing trend in vehicle electrification is the simple fact that many young, forward-thinking companies (and even the legacy auto-makers) are working hard to bring more than capable fully electric and hybrid-electric cars and now trucks and 4×4’s to market including but not limited to…

Bollinger Motors

b2.jpg

Rivian

rivian-r1t-driving-forest.jpg

Atlis

atlis1

Tesla

Little is known about the upcoming Tesla Pickup…but they are working on something big….is this a teaser image of what it may be?

Photo credit: Mike Hoffman EV Network

…only time and Tesla and some interesting tweets from Elon may tell.

FORD

That’s right, Ford has confirmed that is will offer fully electric and hybrid versions of the F-150 for the 2020-21 model years. Below is a concept of what it may look like.

ford-f-150-ev-lead-1547759088

Source: https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a25933730/ford-f-150-electric-pickup-truck-confirmed/

As I wrap up I discover that GM is considering electrifying its trucks as well…looks like the days of the dirty ICE powered pick-up trucks blocking charging stations may soon be a thing of the past.

GMC

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/23/pickups-ready-to-plug-in.html?fbclid=IwAR3SQgZvfFEeq4qNusj4oux17xysgg9SQQFNkWGUtM81FPxH2j8YmeNp3mE

and

Even more possibilities: https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/12/scoop-gm-working-on-electric-pickup-truck-with-tesla-powertrain/?fbclid=IwAR3WA20t4MHHcnZaII9kgVIESAco599xmqHNOUeuGYwsMDR29bJgAE52TiQ

More Ponderings

Erroneously enough, it seems that some of these EVSE blocking folk may be committing these acts as some form of misguided political statement. There is evidence suggesting some of these individuals may feel that owning Tesla and other electric vehicles are somehow anti-American. If this is true, then it is obvious – these people have not done the simple online research revealing Tesla as an American car company. Tesla’s vehicle and battery factories, parts suppliers, shops, and service facilities create a manufacturing, delivery, and customer care chain employing tens of thousands of hard-working Americans in hundreds of cities, towns, communities, and truckers on the roads (soon to be driving Tesla electric Semi trucks.)

You may also be surprised to learn that Tesla now rates as the

MOST AMERICAN car company.

Furthermore, all of Tesla’s cars (in this country) and all other EV’s in this country – run on American generated electricity produced on our soil by Americans operating American power generating facilities.

Many EV drivers, including this blogger, charge their EV’s at home/work with “homegrown” renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar arrays thereby making them 100% energy secure and practically free to drive. Read my last post about how I power my EV with solar and came to the conclusion that my EV (a 2012 Nissan Leaf) costs me one cent/mile to power and drive!

teslas

In other words – any electric vehicle used in this country – no matter it’s manufacturer – is charged by electricity produced from fuels primarily sourced within this country by hard working Americans. 

The same cannot be said of fossil fuel powered vehicles whose fuels of choice were – as of 2017 – around 19% sourced from foreign lands* at great cost to our country and our future. 

*Source: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=32&t=6

All that evidence suggests that driving a Tesla, or any EV  (factory, converted classic, or home built unit) powered by electrical energy sourced in the USA, would be a great act of patriotism that would only support the energy security/self-sufficiency goals of our country.  More on this here: https://cleantechnica.com/2017/05/31/national-security-bulldogs-electric-cars/

tesla-model-s-raffle

Meanwhile

The bullying bozos blatantly blocking Battery-Electric Vehicle charging stations and rolling coal on EV’s and innocent pedestrians with their garishly modified vehicular dinosaurs while attempting to make some sort of macho, tribal, hateful, nationalistic, political, and/or anti-environmental statement against “anti-American electric cars” – are powering their toy trucks on fuels that a percentage of has been procured in faraway lands with governments and policies often hostile toward our way of life.

crazyredneckinpickuptruck

Seems like someone did not do their research.

On top of all this madness – just keeping the fuel flowing into the tanks of their stinky little trucks (and all of our fossil fuel powered vehicles and systems for that matter) has required decades of war*. It has required the sacrifice and the deaths of tens of thousands of our brave and beloved children, brothers, fathers, mothers, and lovers who were often fighting to protect oil rights and resources to keep your (and my) fuel tanks topped off with petroleum-based fuels because, for the last 100 years there has been no other option – but that is about to change. 

*Sources: http://priceofoil.org/thepriceofoil/war-terror/ *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_war *https://energypost.eu/twenty-first-century-energy-wars-oil-gas-fuelling-global-conflicts/

While I will always 100% support our brave servicemen and women in the military, and all of my friends and family members who are serving and have honorably served – and some who have paid the ultimate price – I am not at all OK with, and will never support sacrificing my loved ones and friends lives just to protect the flow of oil so I can think I am free when in fact I, and all of us, remain addicted to the fossil fuel machine.

IMHO – to be truly free one must be as self-sufficient as possible. If we are relying on imported energy sources while sacrificing our loved ones to acquire and protect that energy – we are not self-sufficient and we will never be truly free.

To be self-sufficient and truly free, our country needs to work toward the ultimate goal of sourcing all of our energy needs from our home soil.

Being self-sufficient also means to respect and care for that which gives you life. To me, this means using energy resources that do as little harm as possible to the very environment that provides all of us with all of our survival needs. To me, this means we need to focus on developing the amazing untapped potential of ALL available renewable energy sources and keep fossil fuels as a strategic reserve and a backup power source for the lean times. If the USA continues burning through almost 20 million barrels of petroleum per day not only will we quickly exhaust these finite fossil fuels and be forced to scramble to get renewable energy sources online and operational while millions suffer, but we will also speed up the destruction of our health and shared environment with fossil fuel pollution speeding up atmospheric pollution, planetary warming and weather weirding due to anthropogenic climate change.

Common sense and scientific evidence say that now is the time to start making a system-wide switch to renewable energy sources.

We need to move toward 100% renewable energy now.

We know what we need to do.

We have the technology.

We have science on our side.

But do we have the personal and political will power to do it?

Which future will we choose?

Sadly, to keep the costs at the pumps down so the fossil fuel addiction can continue to flow to consumers unabated, and to keep EV and domestically produced renewable energy adoption low – the fossil fuel supported powers and bribed politicians in government keep funneling our hard earned money into supporting the fossil fuel producers and pushers with massive subsidies to the tune of $20 billion annually*! The massively powerful and insanely wealthy fossil fuel machine, working with uncaring, bribed politicians and policymakers on both sides of the political fence, are funneling loads of money into organizations that work to manufacture loads of FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – in the peer-reviewed scientific evidence presented to us by the vast majority of the planet’s climate and environmental scientists. Evidence that has collectively revealed that we humans are changing the climate, the natural processes, and the stability of our atmosphere – thereby bringing about anthropogenic climate change and the sixth mass extinction of life on planet earth – and we just let this happen. Why? What is wrong with us?

oil_addict-1-545x382.jpg

*Source: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/10/6/16428458/us-energy-coal-oil-subsidies   and http://priceofoil.org/2017/10/03/dirty-energy-dominance-us-subsidies/

Furthermore, the acquisition, shipment, refining, distribution, and use of petroleum-based fuels has resulted in countless oil, gas, and fuel leaks, spills and other accidents that have created massive impacts to our shared environmental life support system, loss of human life and wildlife, loss of health and livelihoods for countless people and families, oh and those nagging and worsening air pollution and climate change issues…just to keep the oil and gas flowing to feed the status quo so the cash can continue to flow into the bank accounts of the filthy mega-rich oil barons and corrupt politicians who are working together to enrichen themselves while destroying our shared futures.

All this madness trickles down and the lunatic fringe – in petroleum production, government, and those in their charging station bocking little toy trucks – who remain free to target and assault those of us working to make good and lasting changes in the world by adopting and promoting the following;

  • promoting and using “homegrown” renewable energy
  • promoting domestic energy security through the adoption of renewable energy resources
  • teaching preparedness and self-reliance through the scientific method
  • accepting science supported evidence and expert guided change
  • driving a much more energy secure, less polluting, lower maintenance, cheaper to drive, electric vehicle built in the USA and powered by American electrons.

Conclusion

The problem with the small number of fringe-dwelling, macho-driven, small-minded individuals that choose to intentionally block and vandalize charging stations, insult EV drivers for childish thoughtless “reasons,” (and roll coal) is that they do not think – they just act on their primal, fear-driven, toxically tribal emotions without any actual evidence or reason to back up their childish actions.

I could go on but I believe you now know what I think about this issue.

In closing – I have offered examples and explained
ad nauseum the many reasons why the thoughtless practice of intentionally ICEing/blocking/vandalizing Tesla and other EV charging stations is ill-advised. However – while I may have explained it, I cannot understand it for you.  That challenge is up to you and I hope you have the intellect and the common sense to do so…and to never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source.

Knowledge is power.

Knowledge conquers fear.

Get some knowledge.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

GREEN LEAF!

One of my oldest childhood dreams is now a reality – and more!

That dream was to one day drive an electric vehicle that was charged with electricity provided by the sun.

solarcarhouse

After originally dreaming up the idea in Mr. Jackson’s 6th grade science class way back in 1980*, then pondering, dreaming, and researching the idea for many decades until recently, with the convergence of technologies over the last few years,  and by working with great friends, nonprofit supporters, patrons and my amazing students – I have finally made that boyhood dream come true for me and, most importantly, for my students – who are the next generation.  Our children are the generation that will benefit the most from these coming of age technologies – technologies that they will soon come to see as normal and as every day as we kids of the last generation viewed the internal combustion engine, land-line telephone, film camera, CD, and MTV.  *Read all about my 6th-grade epiphany in this blog post I penned on my nonprofit blog.

Now, over 35 years later, I am finally daily driving an electrically driven vehicle whose battery is charged with locally grown electricity from the sun – and a good chunk of water and wind produced renewably generated electricity!  I use this renewable energy fueled electric vehicle for commuting to and from work, as an outreach vehicle for my nonprofit environmental education organization – Earthshine Nature Programs – and as a teaching tool in my middle and high school science classes where I work to demonstrate working models of the “new normal” of these now off-the-shelf technologies to the young minds who will lead us forward into a clean, renewable energy powered, and electrically driven future!

How did all this happen?

It all started in the late summer of 2012 when my wife and I purchased a slightly used 2012 Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle (EV).  I wrote all about that misadventure in this previous blog post.

wejustboughtaleaf

We quickly came to dearly love the little electric car, and for the first 4 years of EV ownership, we charged the vehicle using the local grid provided energy mix.  In 2017 this all changed when my classroom’s new 4.8 kW photovoltaic solar array went online.

Now I charge my EV almost every day with sunlight!

The data I have outlined below reveal that 48% of the power I used to charge EV’s drive battery over the period of this study came directly from solar produced, renewably generated, clean electricity produced by the 4.8 kWh photovoltaic solar array at my classroom/office where I charge on weekdays.

Read more about the construction of our student-built solar array.

Due to the logistics of driving an early, short range, EV – the other 52% of the power needed to get me around during the time of this study came from the local power grid’s energy mix.

That energy mix is not perfect but it could be much worse.  As of only about a decade or so ago it was provided by electricity generated primarily by burning coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels.  As it stands today our local energy mix is a blend of coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, solar, nuclear, and wind (more or less in that order).

This 52% of my electric vehicle’s electron fuel originates from the local energy mix which I source from various 120 volt standard electrical outlets at my private residence and at the homes of friends, and the readily available Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)  – aka car chargers – network located all around my “home range.” (Home range = the area in which I spend the majority of my time.)

When on the road I always try my best to use EVSE that are in close association with, or not far from solar or other renewable energy power sources in the attempt to keep my car’s electric fuel as clean as possible.

But how does all this work you may ask?

First, let us look at the solar side of things.

It all starts with our nearest star – the sun.  Sunlight, which is made up of photons – that can take up to as long as one million years to be produced inside the sun – is produced by our nearest star then zip through space at the speed of light and around 8 minutes later strike my classroom’s photovoltaic solar array – that’s my classroom in the below photo taken by the ENP solar charged camera drone.

DCIM104GOPRO

The photons are then converted into direct current (DC) electricity by an almost magical process that takes place within in the blue semi-conducting solar cells contained within the 20 solar modules that currently* make up the array.  After the electricity is produced in the solar modules it travels (again at the speed of light) via wires to the SMA Sunny Boy inverter where it is modified from DC current into AC current and sent into the building’s power grid.  From the there it travels via more wiring to a Clipper Creek Level 2 EVSE.    *I say currently because we are now working on raising funds to complete Phase Two which will add 10 more solar modules to our classroom solar array powering the entire building and the EV with solar!  Learn more about how you can help us make this happen for our classroom and nonprofit on our Patreon page or on our GoFundMe page.

Read all about our very special EVSE – donated by Pine Shore Energy

From the EVSE the energy then travels along a cable into my 2012 Nissan Leaf and charges the car’s battery with clean, locally produced, renewable solar electricity.

ENPEVSE

No dirty, toxic, life-destroying fossil fuels needed for this configuration.

just

Sunshine + Science + EV + Willpower + Determination + Generosity +Hard Work = a Solar Driven Electric Vehicle!

sunflowersolargarden1

Renewable energy + EV’s are the “new normal” and they offer all of us freedom from the subscription to dependency that is fossil fuels.

Although I have been daily charging my 2012 Nissan Leaf in this manner since mid-July 2017, this report will only cover a 4-month time-frame between August and November of 2017. At the end of 1 year, I will recalculate and we will take a look at the changes.

I only live about a dozen miles from my classroom/office and during the week I always charge my Leaf at work. After work and on weekends I often travel around the area for work and play so I must occasionally plug my Leaf into a standard power outlet on my carport at home or use the many conveniently located community Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) public charging stations* that are powered by other local energy sources – and some of these energy sources are not as clean as our favorite neighborhood star.  For these logistical reasons, my Leaf is not entirely powered by the sun – at least not yet. *see map below and visit Plugshare to learn where there are EVSE near you.

The local charging station network as of the writing of this post.  The blue dot is approximately (but nowhere near exactly for security reasons) where I live.

plugmap

So, how do I know my Leaf is 48% solar powered?

To answer to that question I took a deep look at my “Leaf Log” – a charging status and usage journal that I have been keeping of my daily charging/driving activities since day one of EV ownership.

I compared my Leaf Log with the daily power production logs from my classroom’s SMA Sunny Boy Inverter and cross-referenced those with the power usage records from Duke Energy – my grid power provider.

The Data.

Time period covered: August 01- November 30, 2017.

Total solar array production to November 30th: 1.36 MWh

Average monthly solar production over the time period: 280.45 kWh

Average daily solar production over the time period: 9.34 kWh

Total number of times the Leaf was fully charged* using solar produced electricity over the time period: 65

*I only recorded data for days where solar production equaled or was greater than the kWh needed to fully charge my Leaf EV.

Total number of times the Leaf was charged at home over the time period: 47

Total number of times the Leaf was charged with local energy mix* over the time period: 53  *Our local energy mix includes a mix of Coal, Natural gas, Hydroelectric, Solar, Nuclear, and wind more or less in that order.  From:   https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/#tabs_unit-1

energysourcesnew

Number of kWh from the cleanest solar produced electricity (my classroom solar array) over the time period: 535.19 kWh

Number of kWh from the local energy mix over the time period (home+other local EVSE): 687.3 kWh

Number of kWh sourced from Level 1 home charging: 357.3 kWh

Number of kWh from all other sources outside of solar/home: 330 kWh

Total kWh used by EV over time frame: 1222.49

Leafenergy17kWh

It is important to note that my home energy mix is supported by wind power carbon offsets through Arcadia Power.  This is significant because when I charge my Leaf at home, the energy used to charge its battery, while being physically generated by the local energy mix, has its carbon pollution offset by the construction and operation of wind farms which serve to lower my EV’s carbon footprint even more!

Number of kWh from wind energy offsets used to charge my Leaf at home over the time period = 357.3 kWh

Now let’s take a look at the local energy mix.

The total kWh sourced from the grid mix over the time period = 330 kWh.

Total kWh electricity sourced from EVSE in close proximity to renewably produced energy from home range grid mix over the time period = 97.3 kWh

Number of kWh from known renewable energy augmented EVSE stations*: 51.9 kWh * Solar BrightfieldTS EVSE at UNCA/Asheville Public Works BrightfieldTS solar EVSE/EarthFare BrightfieldTS EVSE/Sierra Nevada Brewery/WCU BrightfieldTS EVSE/Cherokee Welcome Center solar/wind EVSE

Total kWh used from charging the Leaf adjacent to the dirtiest EVSE* in our local energy grid over the time period = 27.2 kWh *Note: I refer to this as the dirtiest EVSE in the area as it is less than a mile from and within sight of the largest local fossil fuel-fired electricity power plant in the area – as you can see from this image.

 

energymixother17

FINAL ANALASYS 

Total energy used by EV over time period: 1,221.77 kWh 

1041.69 + 180.08 = 1221.77

Total kWh from known clean energy sources over the time period: 1,041.69 kWh 

535.19(classroom solar) + 51.9(RE EVSE) + 357.3(home wind offests) + 97.3 (near RE)  = 1041.69 kWh

Total kWh from fossil fuel generation sources:  180.8 kWh

153.6 + 27.2 (fossil fuels) = 180.8

 

leafenergypercents

CONCLUSIONS

My calculations suggest that, over the time period in question, the LEAF received 85.3% of its energy from renewable energy sources via either local sources or via carbon offsets.  The remaining 14.7% of its energy came from local fossil fuel-fired generation sources.

leaffinalenergy

So it seems that if my maths are correct (and please do correct me if you find an error) that my data and calculations suggest that during the time period in question my Leaf was 48% solar charged and 52% grid mix charged with 37.3% of that grid mix being sourced from renewable energy sources.

During the 48% of the time my Leaf was solar charging at my classroom – it was, in fact, receiving its electrons from the sun.

The other 52% of the time, while it is reasonable to deduce that my EV received 37.3% of its energy from renewable energy sources – it is more complicated to pinpoint the exact energy sources for my vehicles electron fuel.  This is due to the nature of nature, the nature of the electric grid, the loads on the grid at any given time, the nature of electrons, and my varied locations when charging.

Nonetheless, if the numbers and my calculations are accurate then it is reasonable to say that my little EV is truly a “green” Leaf and, for its specific situation and use – it is as clean as it can possibly be when compared to vehicles powered solely by internal combustion engines that receive all of their energy from carbon-based fossil fuel sources.  These results make me very happy by giving me the knowledge that I am doing as much as I am able to do to shrink my carbon footprint and I am working to share my findings with the next generation.

I am also fully and acutely aware that everything we do has an impact on our shared earth – from the manufacturing process of the vehicle, EVSE, solar array, and all the parts that tie it all together – these all have their own unique carbon footprints.  I am also fully aware that all grid-based energy supply networks – from the dirtiest coal or diesel-fired power plant to the cleanest hydro, wind or solar sourced renewable energy installation also have their own areas of inefficiency and loss that compounds to lower their carbon footprints – so no, there is no such thing as a 100% carbon-free human-made energy source and there will always be some losses in the manufacturing processes, in the power delivery along the way to you, and in the final use of that power by you, the user.  I am not here to debate those things nor am I hear to claim that I have all the answers.  What I am here to do is share with you the ways I have discovered that you can make use of to lower your personal carbon footprint by using renewable energy and electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf in your everyday lives.  Those other, larger issues – we common folk have little control over – but those issues will improve as our technology improves.  For those improvements to happen we need to vote strong scientific minds into offices of power and we need to vote with our money in support of renewable energy projects, electric vehicles and their support infrastructure, and better efficiency in our homes, schools and workplaces and maybe then, by working together, we can work to make our collective impacts on our fragile ecosystem as low as possible for the benefit of us all and for the benefit of everything moving forward.

MORE PONDERINGS

The 149.2 kWh of RE generated/augmented electricity sources used to charge my EV varied depending upon where I plugged into the grid, was it sunny, overcast, windy, what was the ambient temperature etc.  Although I am not 100% sure on any of the following I will take a stab at hazarding an educated guess.

Looking at the below map you will see two polygons.  These represent my daily home range and the electricity generation sources located therein.  I spend around 90% of my time within the area of the yellow polygon while the green polygon represents the extended home range that I visit around 10% of the time.  Note: the Duke Energy power plant located just north of center of my primary home range is listed on the map as a Natural Gas Power Plant – however, that listing is misleading as it is, in reality, a “Conventional Steam Coal; Natural Gas Fired Combustion Turbine with Net Summer Capacity by Energy Source: Coal = 378 MW, Natural Gas = 320 MW.” – so it is currently not as “clean” as it is reported.  The Oconee Nuclear power station, the closest one to my location, is just off the southern edge of the map to the left of Liberty, SC.

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On the next map, we see all of the locations where I frequently charge my car and their locations in relation to the local power grid’s energy production sources.

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The L1 and L2 EVSE in the lower left of the yellow polygon are clustered around my home and office.  My home is located midway between the Duke energy coal/gas plant and a large clustering of hydroelectric power plants to the west.  At first glance it appears that around 50% of my home’s electricity may be provided from this renewably generated clean hydroelectricity – however, those hydroelectric generation stations are on a different circuit so I am therefore unable to take advantage of their much cleaner hydroelectricity.  Although my home circuit’s power grid is fed mostly by a mix of coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, and solar more or less in that order – however, when we take into account the renewable energy offsets I receive from Arcadia Power my home energy mix becomes MUCH cleaner!

When I am in the northern part of my most frequented home range I usually charge at solar assisted EVSE locations located in downtown Asheville at the BrightfieldTS solar assisted EVSE stations located on College St., on the campus of UNCA, at the Sierra Nevada Brewery, or at the Earthfare Grocery store in South Asheville.  These EVSE stations receive a large portion of their power from solar energy so, if an EV is charging during the day it is solar charged.  When an EV is not charging, these EVSE then feed clean solar produced electricity back into the power grid.  I can, therefore, hypothesize that when I charge at these locations (on sunny days) I am driving on sunshine and my car’s electron fuel is potentially as clean as when I solar charge at my classroom.

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Charging on sunshine on the campus of UNCA

When I drive out of my most frequented home range area and into my extended home range (the area within the green polygon) not only is the majority of the electricity in that area provided by clean hydroelectric generating stations, but on top of that,  whenever possible I charge at EVSE locations that are relatively close to hydroelectric, solar/wind* augmented generating stations.  It is interesting to note that the EVSE on the campus of  Western Carolina University is also fueled by a solar canopy as seen below.

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This EVSE is also very close to the nearby Electron Garden , a small campus solar farm seen in the following photo,  as well as being located “downstream” from several hydroelectric power generating facilities that produce close to 50 MW of clean hydro-generated electricity – so these facts suggest that this is indeed a very clean EVSE!22279717_10213086155961288_6919179988762042057_n-1.jpg

Another EVSE I use frequently is located at the Cherokee, NC welcome center in Cherokee, NC.  This EVSE is powered by a mix of hydroelectric, solar, and wind generated electricity.  The building (pictured below) is attached to a hydroelectrically energized power grid and it has two solar “trees” plus a small-scale wind turbine on site that generates even more clean energy from the sun and wind.

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This clean energy is then fed directly into the building’s grid and the three EVSE located in the parking area.  If an EV is charging then its batteries will be solar, wind, and water power charged.

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My Leaf charging at the Cherokee Welcome Center.

On a few occasions, I am forced, due to my Leaf’s limited range, to charge at EVSE located very close to coal-fired generating facilities.  On these occasions, my car is fueled with clean electrons produced by dirty energy generation stations.  The good thing is that these occurrences are rare and totaled only 27.2 kWh of my total energy usage during the time period under study.

Follow Up

I have arrived at my conclusions based on data from my home range map, charging history data from the “Leaf Log,” and knowledge of the local electricity providers power generating facilities and their service areas.

Even with the gray areas in the numbers this 85.3% renewable energy provided fuel is far and above cleaner and more energy secure and has a significantly lower carbon footprint than anything out there on the roads that runs on any liquid petroleum fuel.

In fact, even if I did not have a solar generating station at my classroom/office, or use Arcadia Power for carbon offsets, or charge at renewable energy powered EVSE – my Leaf would still average around 73 mpg equivalent*.   This is due to our country’s grid mix continuing to get cleaner every day with the retirement of aging coal fired power plants and their replacement with cleaner natural gas and much cleaner renewable energy power stations! *From the Union of Concerned Scientists EV Emissions Calculator found here: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/ev-emissions-tool#z/28768/2012/Nissan/LEAF (24 kWh)

This data is based on the following chart of the US energy mix as of March 2017.

2014-map_blog_5.19-1024x749 Source: http://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-and-evs-are-cleaner-than-ever

North Carolina’s Energy Mix

Now let’s look take a deeper look at my local energy mix.  The energy mix is just that – a mix of different energy sources all working together to provide us with reliable power for our homes, businesses, schools, and for a growing number of us – our electric transportation choices.

Traditionally, North Carolina was powered mostly by mostly coal but over the last couple of decades, we have seen a slow but steady growth in renewable power –  especially since 2010.  Since then NC has gone from near the back of the parade to #2 in the country for installed solar power!  Solar now provides NC residents with ~3.57% of our energy mix coming from the sun as well as over 3000 MWh of installed capacity – enough to power over 341,000 homes – and on top of that solar provides over 7,100 North Carolinians with great jobs and in the process, our energy mix just keeps getting cleaner!

Evidence of this can be seen in the below map image of NC’s current solar  (hydroelectric and nuclear) situation! (Note: yellow stars=grid scale solar power generation facilities, Blue=hydroelectric, purple=nuclear.)

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This trend is happening all over the country as evidenced by this amazing graphic from this UCS article.

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As of May 2016, the USA had installed 1 million solar installations – including around 950,000 rooftop solar arrays! (Source: http://blog.ucsusa.org/mike-jacobs/one-million-solar-energy-systems-now-turned-on-in-us )

Many more solar and wind generating facilities are planned for the 2018 year as can be seen in the map below.

planned RE generating facilities 2018

It is wonderful to see the fall of dirty “King Coal” with no new coal-fired power stations going in and the rapid growth of renewable power generation nationwide.  What this means is cleaner air, cleaner water, and a cleaner future for all of us, for nature, for wildlife, for our children, and for the children of the future.

It also means that even when we charge our EV’s on only local grid power they will  ALWAYS be cleaner and have less of an impact on our environment than ANYTHING powered by petroleum products (source).  Furthermore, with more and more new grid scale and private renewable energy generation facilities going online, the grid just continues to get cleaner – so every time we charge our EV’s anywhere – the electrons fueling our vehicles also just continue to get cleaner.

This is a win-win situation for all of us…well, unless you are still driving around in an old fossil burner because, as we all know, their fuel source can never be made clean and on top of that as they age their efficiency drops as their multitudes of moving parts wear out with use only causing them to pollute more and more.

Below a wonderful sign of the times from the Sunday funny papers 🙂

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I almost forgot to mention that when I looked at how the numbers have changed when it comes to my fuel costs to push my Nissan Leaf EV down the road – the new solar array has lowered my costs by,  you guessed it, almost half of what I was paying in the past.  My previous costs of operation for my EV’s electric fuel were around $30/month and now, with my classroom solar array online and charging my car with sunshine, I can now drive my average 1200 miles/month for about $15 – that works out to a little more than 1 cent per mile to fuel my EV!!!

OUTRAGEOUS!!!

That my friends is the ultimate smackdown to petroleum-based fuels.

I could not be happier.

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!THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone who worked with me to make this dream a reality!

You are all HEROES!