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Who Monitors "Free" Electric Vehicle Charging Stations?

Original post made by Ben Johansen on Jun 19, 2013

The so called 'free' electric vehicle charging stations are being used not by patrons of the shopping centers, but by owners too cheap to plug into their own household electrical system and actually pay for their own charge. I have long noticed the same vehicles plugged in for hours at a shopping center, where obviously the person could not still be shopping after 3, 4, or 5 hours, I.E, Safeway or Walgreens. Monday night I saw for the first time real proof. As I got out to shop at Safeway on Santa Rita, I noticed a man open the trunk of his vehicle charging in front of Walgreens. What was strange was he didn't have anything in his hands as if he'd been shopping. Curious, I waited to see what was happening. He walks to a car parked nearby, opened the trunk, took out a golf bag, what looked like a gym bag and some other items and put them in the trunk of the newly charged vehicle. He then backs out of the spot, his wife or girlfriend (I'm assuming) then pulls the other car into the charging spot and plugs that car in. They get back into the newly charged vehicle and drive away. Leaving you and I to pay for their 'fuel' to drive their car. Now I know people are going to try and say that the city is being given funding by the feds for these stations, but come on. That money is not free, you and I paid taxes to pay for that funding. When the feds quit funding these stations, will they become a pay as you go station, or will our city keep paying for free fill-ups out of city funds? So I ask, where is my free gas pump at these shopping centers, so I can fill-up when I'm shopping?

Comments (22)

Posted by anon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2013 at 9:38 am

Ben - possibly someone who works at the shopping center?


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2013 at 9:55 am

Ben,

Have you test driven a Tesla? Pretty amazing ride.


Posted by Ben Johansen, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

anon- maybe? but not what they are intended for. Why would an employer allow you to take up a customers spot for 3-5 hours? Not that employees listen to their employers anyway.

john- No, would love to, but out of my price range and not practical for my job requirements.


Posted by gas guzzler, a resident of another community
on Jun 19, 2013 at 11:03 am

I have one in my office, here in P-town. Proudly strutting about the office, this berkeley resident drives his hybrid in and parks at any available charging station, because the office doesn't have one. Then he shamelessly asks colleagues to drive him to and from his car in our gas guzzlers


Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Maybe if the electric car manufacturers and the public utilities would work together, people like the ones mentioned above would charge their car at home. PG&E offers off peak rates to electric plug in owners but only if a dedicated line and meter are installed. This is very expensive and the pay back would be in decades. What is available is the on-board charging computation installed in the vehicle and the vehicle manufacturer's satellite link. The car would calculate the electricity used in charging and pass this information to the satellite link, like GM's ON Star, which would then pass the information to PG&E. This way the car could be programmed to charge during off peak hours. This saves the customer money, gives the utility a customer who uses off peak power, the power is greener, i.e. mostly from hydroelectric generation, and the car manufacturer could charge a fee for third party validation.


Posted by Curious, a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 19, 2013 at 2:37 pm

@Ben - The charging station at the Walgreens on Santa Rita is not paid for by the city. It is funded by the businesses in the shopping center. If they have an issue with EV owners leaving their cars to charge when they are not shopping, then the business owners need to find a new system.

The Safeway on Bernal had 4 charging stations that were intially free, but after a few weeks, the system began charging $5/hr after the first hour of charging. That is a probably a better model for the Walgreen's charger to follow.

The City operates charging stations at City Hall and the Senior Center. Both charge users an hourly rate which includes a premium to cover the capital infrastructure costs in addition to the electricity used.


Posted by shopper, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Actually,because I like to run into Walgreen's several times a week, When the station went in, I complained to the store that the up front and close spaces for regular shoppers to do quick runs. Already a shortage because the all the unused handicapped spaces up front. Providing electricity is one thing, but there's NO justification for front door spaces!! I was informed Walgreens put it in. I have seen repeatedly, several days in row, the driver comes from across the street, in the Sunshine, tru-value, Jack in box center. I've seen him coming and going to his car several times. I don't know how they plan, since nobody has 'claim' to spaces.
I'll LOL when ignorant zealots don't have electricity in CA, after trying, trying, trying, and finally colluding to shut down San Onophre nuclear plant. Nuclear is the ONLY power that will create ENOUGH supply IF electric cars actually multiply....they may not.


Posted by shopper, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I would want home car chargers blocked 3:-6:pm PEAK during Summer months, so they would not suck home AC users, being forced to pay higher peak rates, due to their smart meters.


Posted by Consumer, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Jun 20, 2013 at 8:45 am

I think this is much ado about nothing. On average, if you plug in your, for instance, Chevy Volt every night it only costs you about $1 a day more in electricity. Needless to say, don't think this amount is going to break the City. And if Safeway or the merchants in that shopping center are charging $5 an hour they are making money on the deal.


Posted by SUE, a resident of San Ramon
on Jun 20, 2013 at 9:49 am

I appreciate the fact that electric cars mean less ugly emissions for me to have to breath!


Posted by J Flack, a resident of Stoneridge
on Jun 20, 2013 at 10:12 am


The problem will be solved when the retailers realize there are energy hogs about and then they will just put up 60 or 90 minute parking signs.

I've been told that charging for power makes parking lot owners a 'utility' (if true, a headache), but nothing prevents them from charging an hourly rate to park in preferred spaces - with the first hour being free.


Posted by Ngo Loon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2013 at 11:09 am

If the taxpayers are having to pay for people to charge their electric vehicles, that is absolutely an outrage. There is not justification for the taxpayers to be subsidizing these sparkies just because the environmental loons think "electric cars" are powered by "free energy".


Posted by JnJ, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2013 at 11:20 am

Sounds like a lot of hassle to me just to save a few bucks. If he wants to play musical cars with his girlfriend every day so be it. He's chintzy and probably overpaid for his "clean" vehicle. People need to visit China for a real lesson on pollution and then figure out how much stuff each of us buys every day that is made in China. Electric vehicle owners are paying a hefty premium to make themselves feel good while driving alongside the rest of us polluters.


Posted by shopper, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Sad that the most ignorant are driving the demand. There is NOTHING clean about electric cars. Fools think if they don't see the pollution there isn't any. In the case of electric cars. the pollution is at the POWER PLANT. Solar is also dirty in the manufacture of temporary panels, and in their disposal, routed thru the power plants. Having your own panels, or better yet, solar ON your car. I wish owners were smart enough to demand that....have the power with them. duh rather than blanketing the earth's surface.
It's really a crime against the earth, to be building that giant solar field in SoCal. I look with contempt on the ignorant self-righteous user, who don't demand a more efficient delivery system.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 21, 2013 at 12:10 pm

what i appreciate about electric cars is they help keep the air cleaner.


Posted by John, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jun 24, 2013 at 9:02 am

Hey Bill, not true you don't need a separate meter for the car. PG&E has a single meter E9a rate, off peak 3.8 cents/Kwh. Rate E9b has a separate meter.


Posted by Andy, a resident of Siena
on Jun 24, 2013 at 9:19 am

These comments crack me up!! I have to laugh because you "greenies" seem to lack a basic education as to where electricity comes from. It may seem "green" to drive an electric car, but the realities are this:

1) The power to charge your "green" car mostly comes from coal-fired power plants. YES, COAL. So don't pretend to be green when your car really runs off of coal.

2) The manufacturing process for those highly corrosive and HazMat batteries in your "green" car is ANYTHING but green.

There are dirty little secrets behind your "green" cars. For me, I'd rather be honest and drive an 8 cylinder SUV. Hey, at least I'm honest about it.


Posted by John, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Jun 24, 2013 at 9:50 am

Hey Andy, it's not about being green totally. I used to drive a big SUV. With my PHEV car I save $5000 per year alone on gas plus I never have to smod my car. The cars also have huge rebates of up to $12000 so they are cheaper than your general gas cars. Throw on PG&E E9a rate for my whole house, my bill for gas and electric was $32.68 which includes 50 car chareges. My cost per mile of EV driving is 0.6 cents, that about 166.66 miles per gallon. It gets even better as I have 20 free EV charges at work. So I spend about $32 per month on gas driving 25000 miles per year. Also, you think EV car are expensive, a new LEAF car can be had for $17000 after rebates. So when I want to drive I never have to think anymore about the cost of the trip, I just go!

Oh, I forgot to mention, with my PG&E E9a rate, I have shifted all my my heavy power usage into the off peak time so washing cloths, etc is basically free too!


Posted by Shannon, a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Jun 26, 2013 at 7:48 pm

It's the same family that parks their maroon colored Volt at Walgreens. They own two car's identical. Today I witnessed the owner a female drive up in her Maroon Colored Volt park and go into the parked and plugged in Maroon Colored Volt and back out and park it only to go to the car she pulled up in and repark in the spot to plug that car in. Then she drove away in the newly charged vehical. It is amazing to me how people really have no guilt in doing this and taking this spot as there own giving no regard to other who may need to charge their vehical while shopping. This annoyed me so I called Walgreens and informed them and they were unaware. I let them know that if they read Pleasanton Weekly they will soon realize that the entire town is aware and it's bad for their business.


Posted by shopper, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2013 at 1:12 am

John really disgusts me with working the system and that the 'system' exists with me footing the bills of his various programs. That I subsidize the obscence rebates of $17,000. (created by taxpayer $$), and special his subsidized EV power rates with a PG&E bill of $32, when I'm a senior in a small townhouse with $150. monthly PG&E bills.


Posted by shopper, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2013 at 1:12 am

John really disgusts me with working the system and that the 'system' exists with me footing the bills of his various programs. That I subsidize the obscence rebates of $17,000. (created by taxpayer $$), and special his subsidized EV power rates with a PG&E bill of $32, when I'm a senior in a small townhouse with $150. monthly PG&E bills.


Posted by Senior lady, a resident of Danbury Park
on Sep 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Just moved to Pleasanton after years away. I have a smart car which I plug into 110 in my garage. I see there is a level 2 charger across the street at WalGreens. What does that mean. My level one requires a 12 hour overnight charge for 80 miles. Would the Walgreens charger give me a quick charge?
Self righteous people seem to be on the fossil fuel side as well. It's true that all attempts to reduce atmospheric carbon contain downsides, some more than others.
Does that mean we continue doing the most harmful to prove there is no perfect solution? Life is full of difficult decisions.


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