2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV at Whole Foods, Frisco, Colorado
As one of the top states in the nation for electric-car sales, Colorado hopes to do something about charging problems.
In the state’s General Assembly, the House passed a bill on Friday to fine drivers who park non-electric cars in any electric-car charging space $150, statewide. The bill is now headed to the state Senate.
As electric cars, and especially Teslas, have become more popular, charging infrastructure has not kept up. With more than 1.1 million electric cars on the road in the U.S., and just over 51,000 public chargers, there are now more cars per public charging station than there were two years ago, placing higher demand on the chargers.
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At the same time, as the number and visibility of electric cars and chargers expands, so has the backlash against them by drivers of conventional cars, who see the number of available parking spaces that aren’t reserved diminishing, and may perceive the EV drivers who use them as privileged and wealthy enough to buy Teslas, or at least new cars.
In some cases, charge points have been blocked conspicuously by gas guzzlers, such as large pickups. In other cases, drivers of gas cars seem oblivious or indifferent to the needs of EV drivers who may not be able to get home without charging.
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“This is a change in how people fuel,” said Margaret-Ann Leavitt, vice president of marketing for National Car Charging, a Denver retailer that sells EV chargers told the Colorado Sun. “I would never park my car at a gas station and walk away. That’s essentially what they’re doing.”
The House bill was promoted by state Rep. Kamala Vanderkolk, who owns a Tesla Model X, and modeled the law after one in Arizona which imposes a $350 fine on anyone parking in a charging space without charging.
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Once, after she posted a picture on social media of Tesla Superchargers blocked by two internal combustion cars, a firestorm erupted, with one respondent saying he would use the opportunity to always block chargers. “Talking about it makes the problem worse,” she said.
One challenge is that electric-car charging spaces are often situated in prime parking spots near building entrances to malls and stores. Other drivers might be less likely to block spaces that require a longer walk. Charging network operators, however, are often limited in where they can site chargers, because of the hefty power they require, which often runs out of nearby buildings. Trenching to the far corners of a parking lot can make installing any chargers less cost-effective.
The bill will next head to the State Senate where, if passed, it can be sent to the governor’s desk.