California AB 475 & Public EV Charging Etiquette, Laws
It’s very exciting to be part of a new EV movement that is so far forward on the cutting edge of society that we are finally starting to see legislation and policy start to catch up with the reality of new technology developments. One of the laws currently being considered by the state of California is effectively an update to EV Public charging stations and their use. Technically right now, California law requires that a ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) i.e. Battery Only EV sign up and get a special decal to utilize and park in designated EV Charging Only parking spaces. Failure to do so may result in a ticket.
In reality, we are seeing inconsistent enforcement of this (how many of you Leaf/Volt Owners actually have this sticker? / Did you even know you needed a sticker technically?) While we have heard of situations where a EV Owner was ticketed for not having the decal (though obviously utilizing the charger) they are more the exception than the rule.
Enter AB 475 – finally an update to this rule.
You can find the full text to AB 475 here. But I will summarize the primary laws below. (It’s a simplification and any novice litigator would chew up my interpretation, but in laymen’s terms)
1.) You no longer need a decal to use an EV Parking Space
2.) To Legally use an EV Parking Space, your car must be plugged in and utilizing the charger (plugged in). They don’t want you parking in the EV Space and not using the charger.
3.) Any Plug In Vehicle Qualifies – (BEV) Battery Electric Vehicle or (PHEV) Plug In Hybrid. –E.g. Volt, Leaf, Plug In Prius, Tesla etc.
Personally, I would love to see this get passed as it would get on the books what is already happening in practice – namely that all plug in vehicles should be allowed to use EV Charging facilities.
However – in an open discussion it’s worth highlighting that not all EV advocates are for the bill as it stands. Here are some of the concerns that other blogs/EV Advocates have raised.
1.) PlugInAmerica: To paraphrase from their statements published on Autobloggreen: They think this law is bad because it would effectively prohibit charger sharing. (E.g. taking a charger from a parked vehicle “when they are done charging”)
2.) People will use a loophole to say they are “charging” because they plugged in their engine block heater thus circumventing the rules based on how the law is written.
To me, point number 1 is worth considering it merits while point 2 is moot. Someone would have to go out of their way to try and use a level 1 charging station in the public as a block heater.
Point 1, which is that this law would effectively kill Charge Sharing is the point I want to consider.
If you think about the point of a state like California supporting public charging, I believe that the main reasons are below.
1.) Incentivize Adoption of Plug In / Battery Operated Vehicles (For public policy reasons)
2.) Reduce Emissions/Gas Consumption Etc.
If you think about any benefits of “Charge Sharing” and the actual use cases of public charging, while I think the idea of altruistic “Charge Sharing” is good (maximizing electrons into vehicles) I don’t think from a policy standpoint it’s a good idea to allow someone to grab your charge cord and plug it into their vehicle without your consent.
My view of it is, when you are in an EV space, you are there for the charging, and it’s first come first serve like any other facility. If someone unplugged my car I would get an alert immediately and be concerned that someone was tampering with my charge or worse stealing my charge cord!
Another argument often made is well let’s say you have a PHEV and a BEV (e.g. Volt and Leaf) technically the Volt doesn’t need the charge to get home, but the Leaf might, is it ok to “charge share” and unplug the Volt to charge the Leaf? In an idea altruistic world that sounds great, but who’s to say that the Volt isn’t out of gas and needs the charge as well?
Lastly, the idea of charge sharing IMHO has limited use. For public charging, I really see only two real high volume uses.
Case 1: (Mall/Movie/Dinner) You are probably only parked here for 1-4 hours max.
Case 2: (Airport Parking) You are probably parked here for days.
For Case 1: A PHEV driver, would probably be able to use all of the charge while they are there, leaving little time to “charge share”
For Case 2: There is a valid point, that effectively there may be a case where a vehicle nearby would benefit from higher charge station utilization. But Who’s to judge when the charge is done? Or when the Owner will return? Or if you unplug them, any concern or undue burden it is on the EV Owner (Who has probably flown across the country – as I just did) would find when they are unplugged in the middle of their trip?
I’d love to hear your opinions on Charging Etiquette and AB 475. But where I stand, I want to be able to charge my Volt – legally.