One of the best things about driving an electric car is that recharging is significantly cheaper than filling up a tank of gasoline. What’s more, you can save even more money if you know how to find free EV chargers. Unfortunately, legislators in North Carolina would like to try and ban them.
Four Republican state senators have introduced a bill earlier this week, called the Equitable Free Vehicle Fuel Stations (opens in new tab), with the aim of cutting off any free recharging offerings within North Carolina. If passed, the bill would forbid chargers from offering free electricity unless the location is also able to supply free gasoline and diesel.
Considering the obscene price of gasoline at the moment, that’s not likely to happen. According to AAA (opens in new tab) the average price of gasoline is $5.014 across the U.S. and $4.663 in North Carolina itself. It goes without saying that offering free gasoline would be completely uneconomical — more so when you factor in the cost of installing pumps.
More to the point the prospect of free gas is likely to send drivers into a frenzy. Assuming they can keep calm and collected, supplies wouldn’t last very long. But there are pretty good odds that people would be fighting over the chance to get a free tank.
Worse still, the bill would require any locations that can not meet these outrageous demands to remove the offending EV chargers. Not only would this be actively making the local charging infrastructure worse, it would also be done at taxpayer expense. And at a time where the federal government is starting to allocate money to do the exact opposite.
Local news station WGHP (opens in new tab) contacted all four sponsors of the bill, to ask exactly what the deal is. Specifically what the senators are trying to accomplish and what problems they seek to solve by clamping down on free EV charging. None of them responded, and neither did other members of the House when contacted.
Other clauses in the bill insist that EV stations must provide receipts, listing a charge for the electricity, and public money can’t be used to provide EV charging stations without also offering free gas or diesel. Not free EV charging, mind you, the wording suggests that any EV charging infrastructure paid for with public money must also come with free fuel.
Which is just straight-up crazy. And again, I’ll point out that the federal government is doing the exact opposite of this.
Personally, this sounds like a poorly-thought out attempt to punish electric car owners for unspecified reasons. As one Jalopnik commenter (opens in new tab) puts it, it’s like demanding water fountains also offer free beer. A stupid, unnecessary idea that doesn’t actually help anyone, in other words.
The good news is that this bill has gone down as well as a house on fire. Jon Hardister, whip for the Republican House majority claims to have “just glanced at the bill” and admitted that “it doesn’t seem to be moving forward.” And thank goodness for that.
It’s been apparent for a while that the writing is on the wall for the internal combustion engine. Regardless of what lawmakers do, the automotive industry is already making moves to electrify their portfolio. Several big names have already announced plans to electrify by the end of the decade, including some that will be ditching the internal combustion engine entirely.
But unfortunately, like any other change, the move towards electric cars will have opposition. Opposition that will probably get louder as EVs become more widespread, as is often the case with people on the wrong side of history.
This bill is just the latest, and possibly one of the most poorly-thought out, examples to pop up. Thankfully, at this point, common sense seems to be prevailing.