Energy Secretary’s Green Tech Tour Backfires Over EV Chargers

Biden administration Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm’s summer road trip to promote electric vehicles (EVs) drew police involvement after a charger standoff in Grovetown, Georgia. What was intended to demonstrate the administration’s commitment to green energy revealed glaring weaknesses in the infrastructure needed to support electric cars.

According to NPR, Granholm’s caravan of electric vehicles, including a Cadillac and a Ford F-150, needed charging at a station with only four chargers — one broken, the others occupied. Granholm’s team tried reserving a spot by parking a non-electric vehicle near a charger, blocking access. A family trying to charge their vehicle “was reportedly ‘boxed out — on a sweltering day, with a baby in the vehicle,'” and subsequently called the police. Although law enforcement responded, the police couldn’t take any action as it’s “not illegal for a non-EV to claim a charging spot in Georgia.”

This episode demonstrates a significant pitfall in the government’s push for an all-electric future, spearheaded by Secretary Granholm. During her road trip, she highlighted how fast technology changes by showing photos of New York City’s transformation from horse carriages to cars within 13 years. But this optimistic outlook sidesteps the real issue: not enough chargers.

Granholm’s tour was designed to sell the American people on a green future where electric cars are as commonplace as smartphones. She called this initiative a transformative way to cut U.S. emissions and reshape Americans’ lives. However, the incident in Georgia illustrates a barrier to this grand vision: a lack of practical, working infrastructure.

Moreover, the irony isn’t lost that while Granholm traveled in electric vehicles to tout clean energy, her Secret Service entourage rode in traditional gas-guzzling SUVs. If the government can’t fully commit to electric transportation for a PR event, how can it expect average Americans to do so in their daily lives?

Granholm is not a stranger to controversy; she faced backlash for owning stocks in the now-bankrupt electric bus company Proterra while regulating their industry. She also admitted to violating the STOCKS Act in 2021. Such issues raise questions about her efficacy and ethical standing as the spearhead of America’s ambitious switch to EVs.

Worries about public chargers are the No. 1 reason would-be EV buyers hesitate, according to auto-data giant J.D. Power, even outranking concerns about high prices. The Biden administration is pouring billions into a nationwide network of electric chargers to tackle this issue. However, Granholm’s experience reveals that we’re far from ready for this electric future.

For a country celebrated for road trips and commutes, the charging infrastructure limitations hit the heart of American culture. No amount of federal money or lofty speeches can change the fact that if Americans can’t conveniently charge their electric cars, they won’t buy into the electric future, no matter how “green” it promises to be.