http://paloaltoonline.com/square/print/2013/09/19/city-looks-to-make-every-new-house-electric-vehicle-friendly


Town Square

City looks to make every new house electric-vehicle-friendly

Original post made on Sep 19, 2013

As Palo Alto revs up for a celebration for electric vehicles later this month, a trio of council members are calling for the city to consider a new law that would require every new house to include charger-friendly infrastructure.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 19, 2013, 9:55 AM

Comments

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Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

Wonder if the City of Palo Alto will be demoing charging stations from Ecotality, which is currently in the news for its bankruptcy filing:

Ecotality, an electric car charger maker, files for bankruptcy:
Web Link

(Reuters) - Ecotality Inc (ECTY.O), a maker of charging stations for electric cars that won a $99.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy four years ago, has filed for bankruptcy protection and said it plans to auction its assets next month.

The San Francisco-based company is among a growing number of U.S. alternative-energy companies that have struggled or succumbed amid consumer resistance to the high cost and restricted driving range associated with electric vehicles.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

> recommending a package of laws that they hope will
> further bolster the city's reputation as a national
> leader in green technology. These include making sure
> all new houses have the necessary circuitry to support
> electric-vehicle chargers and streamlining the permitting
> process for charging stations.

More good money after bad. That's why this City Council needs to be voted out at the earliest possible time.


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Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 19, 2013 at 10:39 am

Sven, this is the moment you went from being helpful (making permit process easier), to being an annoying do-gooder (mandatory installation of chargers in new homes). If you think it is so important, why don;t you pay for all the new homes with your money.


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 19, 2013 at 10:42 am

Would like an option for renters who have garage spaces at their complex.


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Posted by restraint please
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:05 am

""It costs about $200 to make a house EV-ready and anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 to retrofit later on. "

Let's not rush into this until the $200 vs $2000 is confirmed by multiple sources. You can hardly make any change to the building process without costing $100 plus. It is also expected that there will be programs to push toward all electric, no gas, in homes to be able to use all renewable energy.


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Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:10 am

Every new building in Palo Alto should also be highly energy efficient and include solar panels.
All parking structures in Palo Alto, and school parking lots should be covered with solar panels.
This is the best way that Palo Alto can cut down on natural gas and electricity use.


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Posted by wyatt earp
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:29 am

i'd prefer every homeowner be required to own a shot gun for home protection.............


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:47 am

Where would the electricity come from that charges all these cars if every home had one? Just like the free charging stations at City Hall. The electricity is not free or endless.

Could Palo Alto utilities supply all the needed electricity to run all the cars owned by Palo Alto residents?

Don't put the cart before the horse.


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Posted by DC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Wyatt, Earp: ??????? Another person who wants to arm everyone, but will be the first to sue when someone kills THEIR loved one who just happened to be walking their dog past a home where some yahoo with no firearms training fires their weapon without paying attention to what's in the background. Or someone like the most recent mass-cal incident in DC. Oh yeah, let's have more of THAT here in Palo Alto.

As an eco-leader, is it possible for Palo Alto to require all homes to have solar, subsidizing it's installation on all homes, not just new-builds, to reduce gas/electric use? Residents then pay the city a fee every month for all solar powered energy use. Requiring each individual resident to pay for a technology with large upfront costs is outdated and impractical thinking. The CITY needs to invest in the technology. Put their money where their mouth is. THEN they can say they are an "eco-leader".


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Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm

It would seem that an ordinary 110v 20amp outlet in a garage should be good enough to charge a vehicle. If not, we should wait until the electric cars have that capability, which surely will happen. Seems silly to impose some requirement to install a more expensive approach that will be supplanted soon.


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Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I own a LEAF and had a EV plug installed. There are several parts to this. My plug is on the outside of my house since my garage is used for other stuff besides a car. This required conduit to be installed with the wires from my plug to my breaker box which is also in my garage. This is just an ordinary 30 amp 220 v two phase wire and since an electrician was involved (they would not let me do it) it cost over $1,400. Next is the plug/cord/controller on the wall. These run $500 to $1000 and may be specific for your vehicle. The Tesla folks seem to be using some weird plug a LEAF can't use. So one problem here is where to you put the wires which would be "EF ready". The wires should be cheap compared to the actual gizmo you plug your car into if done when the house is built. A 110 volt system will never be fast enough to transfer the juice needed. An EV pulls no more power than an electric dryer and should be no harder to wire.


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Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm

If we really wanted to be "EV friendly" we would require every gas station in Palo Alto to have at least one level 3 charger. Just see how friendly the BIG OIL companies would be to that idea. The level two chargers that are being installed everywhere are virtually useless out on the road as they take 6 hours to charge a car. That is a long stop.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Independent of the code change being a good idea or not, I think the costs estimates are realistic. First, I believe the mandate doesn't say you have to install a charger, just be EV-ready, i.e. you have the wires there for a future EV charger. I can think of two ways to do this, put a 220V-30A socket (i.e. a dryer socket) in garage or in a weatherproof housing near the driveway. Most new houses do have at least 110V-15A sockets (many) in their garage and on the outside near the driveway. All this code change is saying is that one of those sockets has to be a 220V-30A socket.

You might want to go with a 50A socket but the analysis is the same.

Not going to get into whether this code change is a good idea or not, since that's a lose-lose argument, no matter what side you're on.


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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 19, 2013 at 2:26 pm

OhfergoodnessSAKE !!! There are so many problems in this once lovely city. The Council is #1. Get rid of this bunch.


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Posted by SoSad
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 19, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I have to agree with Kate.....

OhfergoodnessSAKE !!! There are so many problems in this once lovely city. The Council is #1. Get rid of this bunch."


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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Sep 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm

I was told that since the condo complex I live in was built in the late 50's that there isn't enough power coming into our building to add these circuits. And that it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to run more power from the "street" to our buildings.


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Posted by 35 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm

So let's bolster our self described reputation as a green technology leader by forcing people to conform to a vision shared by a handful of individuals in the community. People that want electric vehicles can choose to install a system that will provide a charge to their battery and pay for it when they need it. My guess is that the permit process will be complicated and require hoops to jump through. Palo Alto also has a reputation for that.

This council needs to go.


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Posted by Long Time Palo Alto Res
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 19, 2013 at 3:54 pm

1. First - I agree with Sunshine - all residences, parking lots and commercial (yes, schools) should have solar panels. Palo Alto buys its electricity and gas from commercial firms, why not instead pay its citizens to furnish this power.
2. The council, to get our appreciation, should reform the permit process handled by our so-called Building Department. WE ARE THE LAUGHING STOCK OF THE AREA for this lagging, slow and disgusting department. When will this be corrected???
3. The cost of putting Solar and Charging Stations would be much less if our Permit process was more competent and timely.

If changes are not made then I agree - the Council must go!iMFxo


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Posted by Charles
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 19, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I get the impression that some of the people think the proposal if for a mandatory retrofitting of all homes. Unless I missed something it is only for NEW homes and hotels.

Steve's idea is a good one which minimizes cost for a new home while making a later retrofit less expensive.

Question: Will the electric charging connections be the same for all cars? I remember the Oakland fire where different fire trucks with different fittings couldn't connect their hoses to the Oakland fire hydrants.


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm

We went to the Bldg Department to inquire about adding a charger for our Tesla. The man we talked to responded that we shouldn't be there, our contractor should, and that we should get another contractor. We got him to answer our questions and as a parting comment he said "get a new contractor"... So much for a helpful process.

Actual cost to install our charger was about $1100, not including the cost of the charger itself.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm

>> ... mandatory retrofitting of all homes.

Don't all homes need to be brought completely up to current code when certain levels of maintenance are done?


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm

> All this code change is saying is that one of those sockets has to be a 220V-30A socket.

I'm pretty sure this would require its own circuit, a larger two-phase breaker, heavier wiring, possibly a larger electrical box, and more power delivered to the home. It seems like a good idea, but making it mandatory, and the cost of this and the permits and inspections just seem onerous.

Claims have been made that the electrical infrastructure is not up to snuff for lots of electric cars - that overuse will overheat and burnout transformers and require upgrades to the grid. Since we cannot predict the future, what is a nice idea should not be made mandatory.

If I want to get an electric car, and I'm thinking about it, I'll handle the charging station myself.


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Posted by MEA
a resident of Woodside
on Sep 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Why do politicians believe they need laws to do what the market place will drive.


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Posted by Alan
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 19, 2013 at 6:11 pm

@restraint please

> Let's not rush into this until the $200 vs $2000 is confirmed by multiple sources.

This number seems about right. In 2000 I bought an all electric Corbin Sparrow, and has to spend about $2,400 to get a higher amp circuit into my garage where it would charge every night. It was just conduit an extra circuit breaker and wiring, but retrofitting it and running it on the outside of the house made it more expensive.

Doing this on a new house shouldn't be any more difficult than planning for an extra high amp circuit right next to where you might have a washer and dryer. I'm all in favor of this proposal. It is forward thinking, and we are with Tesla and Nissan LEAFs just the beginning likelly to see many more electric viechels in the future.




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Posted by Alan
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 19, 2013 at 6:16 pm

@Resident

> Where would the electricity come from that charges all these cars if every home had one?


Most of the chanrging happens at night during off peak hours, so it doesn't require building an new planets. Instead you would just be running them a bit more at night.

In general natural gas plants are more effient than car engines, so it is a net positive for the environment. If we want to be "zero carbon" we could use nuclear power plants for electricity, but that is a unfortunately a political hot potato, and a discussion for a different thread.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Palo Alto should first mandate than any new school, police building or library building have charging stations and solar power.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2013 at 8:37 pm

> Most of the chanrging happens at night during off peak hours, so it doesn't require building an new plants

The problem is that the infrastructure/transformers are not designed to run hot all day long.


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Posted by Jill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by City Council yahoos
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm

The current city council needs to be voted out of office.
They are incompetent and do not have the knowledge and understanding to be making sweeping decisions regarding commercial development, traffic issues, etc. in Palo Alto. The quality of life in Palo Alto has sharply diminished in the last few years. All thanks to this city council, who is running the town into the ground. Please, remember not to vote for these incompetents, when they are up for re-election.


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Posted by Grow up
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm

These people need to learn leadership. The key to change is through motivation not legislation. Allow new home builders an extra 10 square feet of floor space if they make accommodations for EVs and the problem will be solved.


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Posted by No! Grow down
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Sure, right. Give the developers incentives to build bigger and bigger and still bigger. They haven't uglified the town enough, we should incentivize the billionaires to build even bigger.(see the corner of Alma and Lytton is that what you want?)
Thanks Grow up, you've made a genuine contribution to the degradation of our town.


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Posted by Alan
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:44 pm

> The problem is that the infrastructure/transformers are not designed to run hot all day long.

No it depends on when you charge the car. If everyone starts charging their car when they get home from work sure. But all you need for that is to have the charge on a simple timer that starts the charging at say midnight. "Off-Peak charging won't need to any new plants or transformers".

That is exactly what I did with my electric car. I had a timer start the charge some time after 11 PM. It would run for a few hours, then turn off for an hour and then back on to "top-off" the battery at 4 AM. Next morning it was all ready to go.


I do understand your point. But in the grand scheme if switching to more electric cars makes us energy independent, so we are having wars in countries with oil than having to increase the number of transformers in a few neighborhoods is a trade-off I'm willing to take.

More electric cars are good for this country we should encourage it.


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Posted by Alan
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:48 pm

@Grow up

> These people need to learn leadership.

This is leadership and I respect our city council for making this choice. Asking a developer to put one extra circuit into the garage costing an extra $200 buck on a million dollar home is peanuts. That is an extra 0.0002% on the cost of a house. Two ten-thousands of a percent. This is a no-brainer, is should be done. Look to the future not to the past.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2013 at 12:16 am

The additional incremental building cost is really irrelevant. The city / state / federal government has no business micromanaging this level of detail in our lives. The regulation does nothing to insure building safety so city government has no reasonable excuse for enacting such regulations... especially at a time when the future of personal electric cars is far from clear beyond being the current preferred toy/status symbol for people with a lot of disposable income in Silicon Valley. According to the city, everyone is going to be riding a bicycle anyway... maybe we should require installation of a bicycle rack for each new home and ban garages altogether. Said bicycle rack should have a capacity of at least 2 bicycles, be located in the front or side setback , no more than 18 inches from foundation wall, be constructed of aircraft aluminum ,stainless steel or carbon nanotubes and must be bolted into a concrete slab of no smaller than 6'x 3'.
I'm 6'4" and I personally would prefer every house to a have a built-in glass basketball hoop over the garage door. This would promote an active lifestyle and help reduce healthcare costs by 36.8% in 2021. Since it would be cheaper to do when a new house is built (don't have to redo stucco work around the mounting brackets) I should make it a building permit requirement for my neighbor to install the brackets for a potential future basketball hoop. Also ban glass in garage doors since these can be broken by the ball and so I might need to replace the garage door after I buy a house and install my basketball hoop. No! If I want a basketball hoop when I buy the house, I pay for what I want.
This proposal is just more stupid over-reach from a government looking for things to do while the things it should actually be doing like maintaining basic infrastructure stare it straight in the face.


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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 20, 2013 at 1:17 am

@Alan, still peanuts, but 0.0002 is 0.02%. It's late, I know.


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Posted by Grow up
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 20, 2013 at 1:38 am

No! - perhaps you didn't understand my point. Make incentives for folks to add EV hookups, not requirements. Keep in mind your showers is most likely larger than 10 sq ft. Make it 1 sq ft for all I care - the point is we don't need big brother handing down even more legislation.

I COMPLETELY agree with Dan


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Posted by incredible
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2013 at 6:15 am

This says it all. Our City Council's land use policies are totally
anti-environment, creating pollution from gridlock,massive overdevelopment,no restrictions on dewatering of sites, no regard for aesthetic values in buildings and streetscapes, and now these three Council members want to require electric-vehicle chargers!
This is the exclamation point folks. This is their world.


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Posted by The color of electricity
a resident of Monroe Park
on Sep 20, 2013 at 8:11 am

When will Palo Alto be like Berkeley and offer discounted electricity rates to those who charge their cars after 5 pm? I would think that eight hours on a charger 7 nights a week, especially if it is a 220 charger, would be far costlier than 7 days' worth of gasoline, thus increasing the utility bill quite a bit.

Also, electric cars need to be a lot more reliable. My Tesla-owning friend says hers is in the shop more than it is out of it.


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Posted by Berry
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 20, 2013 at 12:22 pm

HA! Palo Alto can't even get their own building code inspectors to do a DECENT job. Now you're gonna try and pass a law to force new homes to have this crap? Good luck with that. Don't tell me how to live Palo Alto!


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Posted by Jill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 20, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Sven Thesen, the environmentalist, waters his lawn with urine from his house. Yuck. I pity his poor neighbors when they hear and smell the sprinklers turning on.


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Posted by Zaftig
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 21, 2013 at 10:23 am

For all the time and money it requires to get an all-electric car to go a measly forty miles, it just isn't worth it! To get a battery that can go longer and farther is horrifically expensive and heavy, not to mention costly.

The solution is lighter, cheaper long-range batteries that get 200-300 miles per charge, and recharging stations that can completely recharge the batteries in five minutes or les, like the time it takes to fill up a tank of petrol


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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Filling a tank with gasoline is more like replacing a battery than recharging one (i.e. you are putting in a new source of chemical energy rather than reconstituting the original one from the byproducts). If all automakers made easily accessible, modular batteries then it would be simple to pull into a station and have your dead battery exchanged for a full one. The station could then charge the battery. Unfortunately the car manufacturers have no incentive to design their cars and battery packs so that this can happen.


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Posted by Up front
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm

So the diffence with electric cars is what you don't pay. Electric is much less per mle, free for me where I work, if I has an electric. Cost of maintenance is much lower. Lot of cars to choose from that will go 100 miles. Need more range, get a tesla. Once tesla fields their automated battery swapper stations, they will get across the US as fast as a gas car.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I think it is a great idea to require for new construction. The cost is noise-level for new construction, but, can be somewhat expensive for existing dwellings depending on what is there already. Nobody is proposing requiring people to retrofit-- this is for new construction.


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Posted by Hamilton
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2013 at 11:38 am

Can the city offer a rebate to residents who install vehicle chargers in their new and existing homes and apartments?


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 22, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Oh, great. The current building emphasis is not on new single family homes!! It is on senior housing, below-market housing, apartments. These are on the shopping list for lower income and senior residents who are not in the market for fancy cars. They are supposed to take the BUS, remember?? To City Council. FIX OUR STREETS. Get real. Take care of current problems - that should keep you busy - until the next election when hopefully, many of you will be unemployed.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 23, 2013 at 7:20 am

It seems that some people,are mixing chargers and wiring together. Requiring that a new house is EV- ready is a small cost. In fact, to make a new house PV ready would also be a great idea (conduit in the walls from the main breaker up to the roof). We don't own an EV...but recently remodeled our home and did both. Easy and cheap to plan for the future.


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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of another community
on Sep 23, 2013 at 7:54 am

Posted by Alan, a resident of the Charleston Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:44 pm
"I do understand your point. But in the grand scheme if switching to more electric cars makes us energy independent, so we are having wars in countries with oil"...

Laughable that Alan thinks all the US goes to war for is oil.

If they don't need oil, they'll find tons of other reasons.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2013 at 8:01 am

"Curbside charging station?" Anyone else wondering what happens when someone else parks next to your curbside station?