Monday, May 21, 2012


KGO-TV in San Francisco is usually pretty even-handed in its coverage of local news, as long as the stories are not about causes that skew doctrinaire left.  When it does, you get something like this, in which Michael Finney, the resident crusading consumer reporter ("7 On Your Side") bangs his head against the wall on behalf of Richard Wiesner, a Chevy Volt owner who figures that everybody in San Francisco ought to bow down to the Green Gods because ... uh ... it's San Francisco!

The KGO anchors are, center to right, Dan Ashley and Carolyn Johnson. From May 9, 2012:

"Can you imagine just ten years from now, if you were to go back, and replay this entire video, I think people would smile and say 'How archaic were we back then, that we actually told people they couldn't plug their electric cars in?'"

After Wiesner's video testimony ends with that remark, Finney solicits more such cases from rechargeable car owners, adding "We may need legislation! We'll see."  Johnson chimes in: "It would be nice if we could quantify how much a charge costs."  Ashley tosses in a prediction: "Legislation is probably coming eventually."  By that, of course, he means that the city of San Francisco and other progressive municipalities will eventually require landlords to eat the cost of fuel for electric vehicle drivers, as well as assume the risks that comes with operating a fueling station as well as living quarters.

Strangely enough, a website dedicated to "green" vehicles was more rational about the situation, and didn't treat the folks at Trinity Properties as if they are (all together now) "On The Wrong Side of History."  Whodathunk?

While taking up the cause of Wiesner and his Canadian counterpart Mike Nemat (CBC-TV video here), weighed the property rights of the landlord more equitably:
Wiesner's challenges are eerily reminiscent of Ottawa Volt owner Mike Nemat's situation in January, when his landlord refused to allow him to plug in his car in the parking structure attached to his condo. These kinds of confrontations are likely to spread as plug-in car sales rise. But here are the challenges:
  • Standard 110-Volt plugs in garages may be of widely varying qualities and not sufficiently robust for the power draw of continuous plug-in car charging; 
  • In California and elsewhere, landlords must install a sub-meter if they are legally to charge tenants for electricity used--which costs money; 
  • If one tenant is allowed to charge a plug-in car, that same privilege may have to be extended to all tenants; Depending on the building's rate plan, additional use could kick it into a higher-cost rate bracket; and 
  • Landlords do not provide fuel for gasoline vehicles, so why should they provide it for electric cars? 
At the moment, it appears that Wiesner in San Francisco and Hemat in Ottawa are out of luck--as others in multiple dwellings may be as well.

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