This past Saturday's Model S Beta showing and Florida Tesla Club meeting turned out to be a great event. Not only was it exciting to see a near production-ready Model S but I thoroughly enjoyed the number of different conversations we had regarding public charging infrastructure. That got me thinking, what could EV drivers do to help encourage charging stations? The answer is simple, talk to your government representatives.
There's an old staple that any local government representative (especially a planner like myself) is undoubtedly familiar with. Whenever you hold a public meeting, more often than not, the individuals that show up are generally those that are vehemently opposed to the given project. Sure, on occasion you'll get a handful of supporters but most people don't feel motivated to speak out unless something severely impacts their core beliefs. The same is true for any government-backed charging station initiative. When we first began installing our chargers and a story ran in the local newspaper, we were literally slammed with a barrage of critiques. The blogosphere was alive with comments about how stupid it was that Bradenton would do such a thing, negative letters to the editor were written about how EV's were a sham and there were phone calls; lots and lots of angry phone calls. Vocal supporters - nonexistent. To add insult to injury, day-in and day-out City Council members drive by charging stations that almost constantly sit vacant. Now individuals like us know that EV adoption by the masses is going to be a slow and gradual process but to someone who is on the fence about EV's, which group seems correct? The vocal naysayers or the invisible supporters?
So Tesla Motors Club Members, here's my appeal to you - do you like public chargers? Do you want to see more of them? Do you hate it when ICE's park in front of chargers? Tell your local government reps! Call your City Council or County Commission members, send them an email or better yet, drop by and see them. For an example, I H-A-T-E the fact that Bradenton is the only municipality in the entire Tampa Bay region that is currently assessing a fee for charging station use. However the Bradenton City Council made it clear, they didn't want to see free electricity being given away to a "select" group of drivers - and why change that? No one has complained. Believe me guys, you have the power to make a difference if you'll only speak up!