Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was caught in an embarrassing and ironic situation recently when her staff attempted to hold a charging station spot by blocking the area with a nonelectric car.
The decision to block the charging station was made because there is a limited number of charging stations in the area, and Granholm’s staff wanted to ensure one was available when the energy secretary arrived.
Fox News reported that several local residents became angry when staffers refused to move the gas-powered car from the charging station spot. The situation escalated and police were called to respond.
An NPR headline read: “Electric cars have a road trip problem, even for the secretary of energy.”
The unwelcomed negative story came as Granholm attempted to highlight green energy vehicles via a road trip in her electric car.
Fox News reported that “Granholm’s ambitious southern trip was painstakingly mapped out ahead of time to allow for charging.” However, the limited number of charging stations at planned stops was not accounted for.
The Biden administration has pressed for a quick transition to electric vehicles, but owners have complained about limited charging stations and low power in cold weather and also reported horrific working conditions in overseas labor camps where material used in battery production is mined.
Camila Domonoske, an NPR correspondent who accompanied Granholm on the trip, reported: “Between stops, Granholm’s entourage at times had to grapple with the limitations of [available charging stations].”
Domonoske added that “it did not go down well” when a staffer parked “a nonelectric vehicle by one of those working chargers to reserve a spot for the approaching secretary of energy.”
Domonoske also noted that the incident, which occurred at a stop near Augusta, Georgia, kept a family with an infant from receiving a needed charge.
“In fact, a family that was boxed out — on a sweltering day, with a baby in the vehicle — was so upset they decided to get the authorities involved: They called the police,” Domonoske wrote.
Police officers negotiated with Granholm’s team to allow the family to charge their vehicle while the energy secretary charged hers.
Noting the lack of available charging sites, Domonoske, also an electric car driver, wrote: “I drive an electric vehicle myself, and I’ve test-driven many more as NPR’s auto reporter. I know how easy it can be to charge when everything goes well and how annoying it can be when things go poorly.”
The reporter added: “The White House knows it’s urgent to solve this issue.”
The latter part of Granholm’s journey was also marked by challenges. Domonoske noted: “On the secretary’s road trip, that stop in Grovetown included a charger with a dead black screen. At another stop in Tennessee, the Chevy Bolt that I was riding in charged at one-third the rate it should have.”
Granholm acknowledged the issue and vowed: “Ultimately, we want to make it super-easy for people to travel long distances.”
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