A few days ago I wrote about possible business models for free public charging. It’s an intriguing idea, but there is a risk of abuse with this model because many people will take advantage of free stuff.
Standing in front of me is a Nissan Leaf owned by someone who is freeloading off of free public charging offered by the Santa Clara County Water District, and there is another Leaf nearby where the owner may be freeloading. I talked with the one Leaf owner, and know that he is freeloading.
What I’m talking about is a little different than what I myself am doing, maybe. I am on my way home on a trip that takes me near this charging location. I need this charge to get home and will charge at home upon arrival. The person I’m identifying as a freeloader is using this free charging facility differently.
I talked with the owner of this Leaf and understand his situation. He lives nearby, close enough to walk here. He routinely parks his car here to charge even though he has a charging station at his home. Yes, it’s not like he lives in an apartment and doesn’t have charging. He has a station at home but uses this free one at the Water District office. Why? He explained that in the summer, between the pool and air conditioning, his electricity use jumps up to the fourth tier and electricity is too expensive.
Uuuuh. He’s avoiding using his own electricity, because of the expense of his lifestyle, and instead making the Water District to pay for his electricity. Freeloading.
Getting back to the starting point. The Water District set this up so there is no authentication at the charging station. That’s a situation that is wide open for freeloaders, because there is no barrier to “take all I want” behavior.
One can imagine a free station with a timer that provides 5 hours at most of charging. It could be coupled with a threat to tow any vehicle still plugged in after say another 2 hours. The idea is to make it free but with limits. Both to avoid freeloaders, and to avoid competing with paid charging stations.
In terms of freeloading, after writing the earlier post a friend told me of a case where someone living in an RV was camped full time at a free charging station. They’d built a J1772 adapter to power their RV off the charging station and were simply camping there full time. There are freeloaders, and then there are freeloaders.
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