EV Charging on Public Land Shouldn’t Be a Big Deal

Even though the NC State Rep thinks it is

A few weeks back, North Carolina state representative Ben Moss made the news.  He introduced a bill that would allocate $50,000 to destroy free charging stations on public land unless free gas and diesel pumps were also installed in that location. 

A road sign point the way to an EV charging station.

Matt Cardy / Getty Images

We haven’t even gotten into the weeds here, and already let’s recap. There are free (likely level 2) chargers on public land in North Carolina that add maybe a few miles every hour to an EV. They’re probably at parks, rest stops, and other areas where people congregate with vehicles. Moss is so angry at this scenario; he would rather destroy these stations with up to $50,000 than let some people charge their vehicles. 

Let’s call this what it is, a way to get attention. Dozens of publications wrote about this incredibly stupid piece of legislation. Moss might be getting hammered by anyone who can string some words into a sentence, but he will gain some new fans. These people will throw money at him to get reelected, which is likely his actual goal. Whip up anger, get attention, fundraise on the anger, repeat. It’s essentially how politics work. 

But aside from the sad state of political affairs, these types of bills could pop up in other states, counties, and towns. The theme is, "it’s not fair for EV owners to get something for free on public land while gas-powered vehicle owners have to suffer at the pump." 

So if this weird line of thinking comes to your area, here are a few ways to debate the situation. 

It’s Not Fair

Everyone is going to throw a fit about taxes; how our tax money is paying for these charges, and the electricity that’s being used. Remind people that taxes are used at locations that not every citizen can or will use. For example, rest stops. I’ve been to maybe three rest stops in the past 20 years. These accessible roadside areas provide free bathrooms, information, picnic tables, and, well, a place to rest. I’m paying taxes for a thing I never use. All that electricity and maintenance doesn’t seem fair to those of us that would rather stop at a truck stop looking to buy beef jerky. 

Those EV chargers are patriotic. They use electricity generated in this country. Those utility companies are full of US workers. 

I’m also paying for all those schools I keep seeing around town. I don’t have kids. Why should I be subsidizing the decisions of humans that decided to breed? 

I could go on and on about the things I’m paying for that I never use. Is it fair? Actually, yes, it is. We pay taxes to help fund a functioning society. Whether we're paying too much or too little is a whole other argument and frankly not relevant to what’s really going on here. 

But It’s Really Not Fair

The amount of dumb that goes into stipulating that a free charging location also has to have a free gas pump is insane. Let’s talk a bit about infrastructure. 

Electricity is pretty much everywhere. It’s how we get things done and when they’re building out or expanding a city, guess what gets added to those new locations. You guessed it, electricity. So, if a town is building a park, they make sure there is electricity at that location for lights, maintenance sheds, and those summer jam band concerts. Putting a charging station in the parking lot of a park that already has electricity is a pretty simple upgrade. 

Putting a gas pump, well, that’s going to require digging a hole. Oh, then you have to put a tank in that hole. Oh, and don’t forget the large tanker truck required to put more gasoline into that tank. Plus, the free gas. Well, it’s not just going to be folks bringing their kids to the park to play. Once that free gas news gets out, the entire state will line up. 

The free electricity? It’s going to cost taxpayers a few cents an hour when in use. The free gas? It’s going to bankrupt the town. 

An EV charging station in a parking lot.

Nathan Stirk / Getty Images

American Made 

There are few things we can do that will have a larger impact on our foreign policy, and that will assure more security for the nation, than to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Those EV chargers are patriotic. They use electricity generated in this country. Those utility companies are full of US workers. 

That gas pump? Well, that’s a whole ball of wax that may or may not be supplied by US oil companies. But they are definitely tied to a larger oil system affected by the whims and wars of other countries (including ours). 

Building Infrastructure

Ok, this argument probably won't help you, but it’s true. We need to build out the infrastructure not just to help usher in the switch to EVs but also to help ease the public concerns about EVs. A free public charger (or any free charger) typically only adds a few miles an hour to a vehicle. You might be at the Cheesecake Factory for two hours, get back to your plugged-in EV, and see it’s also gained about 10 miles of range while you were gone. 

The range added is a nice bonus to your day. It’s more important that those thinking about EVs see charging stations out in the world in places they visit. Whether it be a local park or a local Dave and Busters; show people that the transition to electric vehicles isn’t as scary as some would lead you to believe. 

Sadly we can’t ignore attention-grabbing politicians like Moss. They will continue to scream about EVs because it’s a great way to get noticed while not actually solving any real problems their constituents are encountering. There’s a weird narrative that EVs are worse for the environment (they are not) and will destroy the grid (they won’t). It’s all FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) whipped up by folks acting only in their own self-interest instead of thinking about the future.

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