Adopt a Charger

Accelerating the adoption of plug-in vehicles via fee-free electric chargers

Leo Carrillo sign

For the Good of the Cause or the Cause of the Good

I have officially held the title of Executive Director of Adopt a Charger (AAC), a nonprofit organization since helping to found it in March 2011. Our mission is to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by installing EV chargers at popular destination locations like National Parks, State Parks, museums and universities.  I’m promoting what I believe in, and supporting the places that mean the most to me.

Paramount to the mission of Adopt a Charger is the opportunity for outreach and education.  Encouraging folks to plug in at these high-profile spots, provides the opportunity for the EV curious to engage in conversation with actual owners, who have proven to be the best sales people for the new technology. If the EV charger is broken or too expensive, the opportunity for converting drivers to PEV is squandered and the exact opposite message of “unreliable” and “not ready for prime time” is portrayed.

AAC encourages drivers to check in at locations on the PlugShare app, which allows direct communication to the site host by the user group, and among the community of drivers.  In over 3,500 check-ins less than 7% of were negative: Yay! This has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for everyone involved.  Of the complaints, 80 were related to the DCQC at the LA Zoo, and the other 160 or so comments were to report that the location was oversubscribed and needed more chargers! Even the “negative” in this situation is a positive.  Thank you to everyone who checks in on PlugShare!! I get all your messages and feel all the positive vibes.  I also love when folks post pictures and make grateful comments about these special spots. The best is getting donations big and small to support fee free charging (thanks in advance for your support).  Adoptacharger.org/donate

I started Adopt a Charger, because as an early owner of a Toyota Rav4 EV, I dreamt of driving emission free to Leo Carrillo State Beach. This scenic location in Malibu is over 80 miles round trip from my home, and a test in the confidence of the range for my aging nickel metal hydride battery.

My dream was realized in August 2013 when my friend William Korthof, and his crew from Sustainable Solutions installed (2) Level 2 – 240 volt chargers at Leo Carrillo State Beach and (2) Level 2 – 240v. chargers at Malibu Creek State Park. Chevy provided $35,000 towards the install, maintenance and electrical for 3 years. Almost 4 years later, 7,167 kw of usage were reported at Leo Carrillo State Beach. Of the $2,500 AAC provided to pay electrical at this location, close to $1,300 remains in the account.

There is very little negative to report from Leo Carrillo State Beach.  In 4 years of sometimes harsh, and always sunny, salty conditions, we have only had two incidents of the chargers failing.  I’m reluctant to even call them problems because the solutions were so quick, simple and cheap. The only issues experienced at this location, were a tripped breaker in July 2014, and recently April 2017. The first time, I called Angel Alba, the Park Maintenance Worker for the Angeles District. He drove by and reset the breaker. Back in action 

within 24 hours. The only other interruption was in April 2017, due to a power outage. I sent someone by the next morning to restore the breakers.

After being installed for a year without a single problem or complaint, in August 2014 we experienced our first incidence of ICiing, when an internal combustion engine blocks an EV charging space.  A driver of a Chevy Volt, Plug- In Hybrid extended range vehicle (PHEV)  told the driver of a camper truck, they were not allowed to park there.  The driver pointed out to the Volt owner that there were no signs prohibiting it, and there were no other open spots.  He was right.  Upon investigation, the “no parking except for EV charging” signs were found in the closet of someone who retired the year before and were never installed.

In October of 2014, I stopped at Leo Carrillo on the way up the coast to El Captain State Beach to celebrate my boyfriend’s 50th birthday.  When I was climbing the railing to check the meter that we use to track usage, a surfer driving a camper truck approached me. He questioned my authority to be there, and warned of rattlesnakes in the vicinity.

When I informed him of my purpose, he told me a story about being harshed by a Volt driver for parking in the EV spot a couple months back, prior to the no parking sign.  He said it was the only available spot it the lot.  He went on to complain that the State Parks should not be giving up parking spaces for EV charging and taxing their already burdened budget with the expense of installing them.  I explained to him that the project was sponsored by Chevy, and he replied that “GM shouldn’t be spending the bail out money on plug-in cars”.  What he didn’t know was that I was there with a heavy heart.

I said “look, I’m here to put flowers on the EV chargers because my friend William, who installed them, died in a motorcycle accident 2 days ago.  I told him that all you need to do is look at the air in Los Angeles to realize that we have a problem, and I’m just trying to make it better by encouraging people to drive plug-in cars.  He said he was sorry to hear about my friend, and that he will look out for the chargers for me. I pointed out the small /wk sticker on the charger and told him that was William’s email signature.  If he sees it around he knows that William touched that spot.

A negative situation had a positive outcome because we took the time to listen and try to understand where each other was coming from. Who doesn’t get aggravated looking for parking at the beach in the summer.  The only thing worse is not getting an EV charging space when you need it!  Just like in life, driving an EV makes you realize that we are all just seeking a connection.

Bill Gates recently recommended reading the book “The Better Angels of our Nature”. I look forward to taking his advice, because I have met so many Angels of Nature who work with the California State Parks. So far, Adopt a Charger has installed EV chargers at Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu Creek State Park, and Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook. In 2014, we received a California Energy Commission grant to install in 12 more parks.  So far, we have completed Fort Ross State Historic Park, Will Rogers State Historic Park, Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, LA State Historic Park, the Heilbron Mansion in Sacramento, and Hearst Castle. The remaining 5 should be completed by next summer.  Please do me a favor, if you visit these parks, make sure to check-in on PlugShare, only use the charger if you need it, and if an non EV driver is parked at a charging space, kindly tell them that these spaces are reserved for EV charging.  Use the opportunity to make a new friend, and explain to them the benefits of driving a plug-in car.  #AlwaysGrateful #BeTheChange #DriveElectric

 

 

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