Obstacles to breathing clean air!

My fiancée Dana and I are moving to LA next week! We’ve leased a condo in Redondo Beach. One of the reasons we selected this condo was that it had a parking space with a 110V electrical outlet. For years I have driven a Chevy Volt, which is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV for short). I don’t drive this car because it’s a cool ride… It’s not… It’s a very uncool small Chevy that runs on electricity for the first 40 miles before the gas engine kicks in. Almost all my errands are short. As a result almost all the miles I drive are zero emission powered by electricity. I drive a Chevy Volt to help keep our air a little cleaner… and that’s the only reason I spent a small fortune for the car. I want to help clean up the environment in every way I can, and electric cars are a great way to cut down on toxic emissions… especially here in LA.

When I leased the condo the owner said I could use the outlet for free and appreciated that I made the effort to drive an e-car. My Volt draws about the same power over a 110V line as a microwave oven. The cost to charge my Volt is about $20 per month. I refused the use of the outlet for free, and offered to pay for the electricity I used because that was the right thing to do. When the owner and I tried to arrange to make payments for the electricity to the HOA (Home Owner’s Association) they said I could not use the outlet. They said I needed to install a metered line. So now I am looking at spending $3,000 so that I can charge my Chevy Volt to keep the air we all breathe a little cleaner. This seems absurd.

The reason I am writing this blog is not to complain about the HOA’s decision. I am writing this blog because this encounter with the HOA is a perfect illustration that helps explain how we got into the environmental mess we are in and how so many people are blindly working against a solution instead of for one. We desperately need education.

It is a remarkable reality that individuals all over the country have to spend so much time and money trying to improve the environment, while at the same time all too often those individuals creating the most pollution have to do nothing and pay nothing as a consequence for their actions. Far too often the cost for pollution is pushed from the polluters onto those trying to clean things up. The scales remain dangerously tipped toward continued environmental damage. The government needs to get more involved. California lawmakers are helping by making it illegal for a HOA to block the installation of a charger. They are also offering tax breaks but their help is not enough to right the blindly tipped scales.

The main obstacle to widespread adoption of e-cars is cost… cost for the e-cars and cost for the chargers. It’s sad that these costs are not balanced against the environmental costs of doing nothing. Laws should be passed encouraging the installation of chargers in any community parking garage. The cost for installation should be heavily subsidized based on use. The more electricity that is used, the greater the subsidy, because every kilowatt hour of electricity translates into several more miles of zero emission driving. If we do not do all we can as a society, our children will only have us to blame.