A family was forced to call police after Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s staff blocked an electric vehicle charging station in Georgia while promoting green energy.
Granholm’s four-day trip from North Carolina to Tennessee was intended to “draw attention to the billions of dollars the White House is investing in green energy and clean cars,” according to an NPR article on the trip.
But one of the problems they faced was the lack of charging stations across the country for electric vehicles to be a reliable transportation choice.
Granholm staff got into trouble outside Augusta, Ga., when a family in an electric vehicle confronted them because they were blocking a spot at an electric vehicle charging station with a gas-powered car .
According to Camila Domonoske, who wrote the NPR piece“a Department of Energy employee tried to park a non-electric vehicle near one of these working chargers to save a spot for the next Secretary of Energy.”
“This was not well received: a regular gasoline car blocking the only free slot for a charger?” she continued.
“In fact, one family who was stranded – on a sweltering day, with a baby in the vehicle – was so upset that they decided to involve the authorities.”
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm took an electric vehicle trip through several southern states, at one point leading a family to call the cops on her team.
The incident occurred when Granholm staff attempted to use a gasoline-powered vehicle to block an electric vehicle charging station for the secretary’s approaching vehicle.
The sheriff’s office ultimately couldn’t do anything because it’s not illegal for a non-EV to claim a charging spot, at least not in Georgia.
But the optics were bad, and Department of Energy workers rushed to remedy the situation by rerouting several vehicles so Granholm and the family’s cars could charge simultaneously.
The author of the NPR article, who drives an electric vehicle herself, said she understands “how easy it can be to charge when things are going well and how annoying it can be when things are going badly.”
“Along with Granholm, I came away with a major conclusion: non-Tesla electric vehicles have a road trip problem, and the White House knows there is an urgent need to solve this problem.”
Electric vehicle drivers equipped with home charging stations can, for the most part, avoid the type of situation Granholm found herself in in Georgia.
However, even electric vehicles currently marketed to the public as “affordable” start at over $27,000. Most models remain prohibitively expensive for the average American family.
The price tag attached to most electric vehicles, combined with frustration at the lack of charging stations, stands in stark contrast to Granholm’s stated desire to “make it very easy for people to travel long distances.”
Granholm’s meticulously planned trip is a testament to how things can still go wrong for electric vehicle drivers, even those who benefit from Department of Energy resources.
Beyond the incident with the Georgia family, Granholm’s clean energy motorcade encountered a charger with a dead screen in Grovetown, Georgia.
In Tennessee, the electric vehicle the NPR reporter was in failed to charge effectively. Electrify America, an electric vehicle charging network, said slow charging was not an isolated incident but rather an issue that occurred in a number of charges due to a faulty component.
Granholm has previously touted the Biden administration’s significant financial commitment to building America’s electric vehicle infrastructure.
There aren’t enough electric vehicle charging stations in the United States, and some don’t work particularly well
Since the start of his tenure as Secretary of the Department of Energy, Granholm has pushed for a federal commitment to electric vehicles.
The Department of Energy, however, defends its ambitious (and expensive) plan to reinvigorate the country’s EV infrastructure.
“For more than a decade, while our global competitors prepared for the clean energy transition, America lagged behind,” the department said in a statement.
“Now, thanks to President Biden’s historic Invest in America agenda, we have more than $7 billion to build convenient and reliable electric vehicle charging infrastructure, part of which is already allocated to every state in Washington DC and Puerto Rico.
“The private sector is following suit with equally ambitious investments: growing our workforce and keeping money in the pockets of hard-working Americans.”