Not so long ago, any electric car owner looking to use a public charging station to recharge their car’s battery pack generally had two potential problems blocking them from charging their car: an internal combustion engined vehicle parked in the charging bay — a practice known as ICEing by EV fans — or a broken, inoperable station.
These days, with more electric cars on the roads than ever before, plug-in drivers have several more potential problems awaiting them in addition to those two old chestnuts: a long queue of other electric cars all waiting to use the same charging station, or an abandoned electric car left there by its owner long after it has finished charging.
The solution to the problem of long queues is installing more charging infrastructure. And in some states, where charge station sharing is allowed, simply unplugging the fully-charged car and plugging in your car is a way to solve the problem of fully-charged, abandoned cars. But in other states like California, where it’s illegal to park in an electric vehicle charging bay unless the vehicle is physically plugged into the charging station (it doesn’t actually need to be charging) unplugging someone else’s car to charge your own could get very messy very quickly.
Even in states where charging station sharing is completely legal, latest-generation electric cars often come with charge port locks, making it impossible to unplug a car from the charging station until its doors are unlocked by the owner.
But now Car Charging Group, the company responsible for running the nationwide Blink Network of Level 2 and DC quick charging stations, has announced a new solution to the problem of the inconsiderate charging station hog: post-charging occupancy fees.
The idea is simple. Starting next Monday, the Blink Network will levy a post-charging occupancy penalty fee against any electric car owner who leaves their electric car attached to a Level 2 charging station for more than fifteen minutes after the car stops charging.
That fee, $0.08 per minute, will accrue against the account of an offending customer until they unplug their car and move on, meaning someone who takes an hour to pick up their car after it finishes charging will find themselves paying $3.60 on top of their charging fees for the 45 minutes beyond the 15 minute grace period their car was attached to the charging station.
While the new policy will begin its rollout next Monday, the Car Charging Group says that it won’t initially be introducing the policy everywhere. Instead, it aims to initially introduce the fees in areas where there’s currently a high demand for charging stations and there’s already a problem with charging station blocking.
At the time of writing, it is believed that the fees won’t apply to DC quick charging stations, which normally are not victims of the same kind of inconsiderate behavior from electric car owners.
Here at Transport Evolved, we’re glad to see a charging provider propose a penalty system to ensure that those who have fully-charged cars move them as quickly as possible to give others a fair chance, but we’ve got to admit to feeling a little sad that a charging provider feels the need to do this.
With electric and plug-in hybrid cars now more popular than ever before, we think it’s the responsibility of all who use public charging stations to ensure that they only make use of available infrastructure when they really need to — and move on when they’ve got enough charge to get them to their destination.
All too often, public charging is viewed by the minority of plug-in car drivers as a free way to fully charge before heading home or carrying out their next errand — even when they’ve already got enough charge to get home.With that in mind, we’d like to remind readers of two simple tips.
First, only charge as much as you need, and make sure that you keep track of your car’s state of charge via your car’s remote telematics system (if fitted). Second, be sure to leave some contact information in your car’s windshield, or make use of ChargeBump, MyEV or PlugShare apps to ensure that if someone arrives and needs to grab a quick emergency charge, you’ll be able to help them out of a jam.
After all, when you’re driving a car that is already far cheaper to own and operate than a gasoline vehicle, it pays to follow the Wil Wheaton Rule.
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