Earlier this summer, Jennifer Granholm, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, decided to set out on a road trip. But it wasn't your ordinary road trip; it was a journey in an electric vehicle with the mission to shine a light on the White House's investment and interest in green energy and zero-emission transportation.
Her trip from North Carolina to Tennessee turned out to be more than she bargained for and showed the significant challenge that EV owners face every day: a lack of charging stations.
The secretary's experience led to a charging station standoff where secretary staff blocked a family from charging their car and left them with a baby in the heat, prompting a call to the police.
Granholm is receiving backlash for using her political position for power (pun intended.)
Charging Station Confrontation
The road trip took an unexpected turn when Granholm's team found themselves in a tight spot – literally. At a stop near Augusta, Georgia, the scarcity of available charging spots became painfully evident.
In a desperate attempt to secure a charging station for the approaching secretary of energy, one of Granholm's staff members resorted to parking a nonelectric vehicle in a charging spot.
This maneuver did not sit well with a frustrated family who found themselves blocked out of the only available charger. On a sweltering day, with a baby in their vehicle, their patience ran out, and they decided to involve law enforcement – they called the police.
Here's how the report from NPR puts it:
“Her advance team realized there weren't going to be enough plugs to go around. One of the station's four chargers was broken, and others were occupied. So an Energy Department staffer tried parking a nonelectric vehicle by one of those working chargers to reserve a spot for the approaching secretary of energy.
That did not go down well: a regular gas-powered car blocking the only free spot for a charger?
In fact, a family that was boxed out — on a sweltering day, with a baby in the vehicle — was so upset they decided to get the authorities involved: They called the police.
The sheriff's office couldn't do anything. It's not illegal for a non-EV to claim a charging spot in Georgia. Energy Department staff scrambled to smooth over the situation, including sending other vehicles to slower chargers, until both the frustrated family and the secretary had room to charge.”
The Secretary's Charging Solution
The situation was eventually resolved, with the family gaining access to a charging station while Granholm also charged her vehicle. However, the secretary's solution was to push other people off the chargers and onto slower charging ports so the family and the secretary could recharge.
Not exactly a great solution, but that just goes to show the struggle that EV owners are dealing with.