Washington State Senate outlaws blocking EV charging stations

by Ernie Hernandez on March 17, 2013

EV Charging signage

Fine of $124 for parking and not charging

Washington State Senate just passed bill SB5849 (found here) which prohibits parking in a parking stall marked as an electric vehicle (EV) charging station. Specifically, a portion of the bill reads as follows:

It is a parking infraction, with a monetary penalty of one hundred twenty-four dollars, for any person to park a vehicle in an electric vehicle charging station provided on public or private property if the vehicle is not connected to the charging equipment.

Yes… this from the same state that chose to tax EV owners $100 for driving EVs (found here). We actually agree with both of these bills.

Currently EVs make up a tiny percentage of all vehicles. Less than one percent in most markets. When one realizes that gasoline taxes maintain our roads, and EVs don’t pay gasoline taxes, it makes sense that some sort of revenue adjustment must be made. We don’t know that a flat tax, such as that in Washington, is ultimately the correct route, but it had to start somewhere. We don’t feel that a flat tax is ideal as not everyone drives the same amount. As it happens, a Washingtonian likely has the high mileage mark for a LEAF in the United States with 70,000 miles on his 2011 LEAF (in just under two years) (found here). We have just 12,000 miles on our car which will be two years old next week. Clearly we have not provided the same amount of wear and tear on public roads. As there is currently no need to report mileage to the Department of Motor Vehicles, and it is unlikely that mileage tracking will become a requirement, it is likely that a flat tax will be the most used scenario for all states.

Regarding the bill penalizing for the blocking of EV charging stations – we think it’s a good idea. It’s still a little rough around the edges though. As currently worded, any vehicle can be fined “if the vehicle is not connected to the charging equipment”. We can envision parking our LEAF in such a spot, another EV comes along, parks in the adjacent spot and unplugs our LEAF (hopefully when it’s done charging). We get ticketed for not being connected to the charge station. Should that happen, CARWINGS could provide the time that the car was charging, and also show the location of the charging station, so we don’t see this as being insurmountable. The new LEAF offers an interesting new feature though.

The 2013 LEAF offers a charge lock mode with three selections – unlock, auto, and lock. In the unlock mode, it works exactly as it does now. Anyone can unplug your car even if it is in the middle of charging. The auto mode is pretty clever. It will lock the charge station to the car until the charge is complete (driver selectable 80 percent or 100 percent). Upon charge completion, the locking mechanism releases the charging equipment. Finally, the lock mode is exactly that. The two are locked together until unlocked by the driver. This mode is the most likely to cause damage to your car as someone comes along, your car won’t release the connector, so you get key marks down the length of your new LEAF. We highly recommend when using the auto mode that you place a highly visible note on the dashboard visible through the windshield stating that the lock will release upon charge completion. Perhaps you could even put an approximate expected time of charge completion. A nice addition to the LEAF mobile phone app would be the ability to unlock a locked charging station. This way you could place your phone number on your windshield note so someone could call you if they had an emergency need and you could unlock it remotely.

As the LEAF, and other EVs, become more of a factor regarding wheeled transportation, we will all be called upon to create innovative solutions to challenges that have never existed before.

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan Wallace March 20, 2013 at 9:55 am

Some people have put together a ‘contact info’ site for EV users that doesn’t involve putting your cell phone number on your dash, it’s actually pretty clever, i just leave my sticker in the drivers side wing window (the little triangle at the front of the door) so people can contact me if they have a question about my car, or need to use a charger I’m using.

It would work really well with the ‘auto’ lock function if the driver could manually stop charging via the CarWings application, though I’m not sure that’s been implemented yet.

http://mobilesquared.com/chargesticker/

Reply

Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) March 20, 2013 at 9:03 pm

Ryan – Welcome to Living LEAF. That sticker does sound like an interesting way to resolve the issue if one wishes to remain anonymous. Currently, CARWINGS does not offer remote unlocking of the charge connector, but it seems that the capability should exist to create the possibility.

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