An Open Letter to the Library On My Electric Car

Good day (Pikes Peak Library District pooh-bah),

I’m Tom Preble, that guy with the Leaf that had been plugging in on 1Kwh /120 volt trickle charge at your Falcon branch – High Prairie, whilst using the facility.

First, do understand that I had asked permission for open-ended trickle charging. Permission had been granted some months ago, and I took the business card of the employee granting permission. (I always ask permission and have a business card file in the Leaf of those in authority who have given me open ended trickle charging permission and thus, their card.) Just to be clear, I was not sneaking or helping myself, but had been very upfront about Leaf trickle charging from the beginning.

Apparently someone complained, and wanted “free gas” or some such. Of course they don’t understand that trickle charging the Leaf is one kilowatt per hour, or 10 and a half cents per hour. Complainer-types generally don’t care to understand, but just want to gripe about someone “getting something that they are not,” so mission accomplished for the whiner.

(Name of pooh-bah), you and PPLD owe me nothing. Permission may be granted and permission may be rescinded, okay. But on the phone you’d asked that I email you with regard to the changing times, green low carbon transportation, and the library’s thoughts on supporting that.

The electric car is a real alternative to the oil fueled monopoly transportation paradigm. The cars are quiet, reliable with 90% fewer moving parts than found in a gas car; they’re zippy, and as green as their power supply allows them to be.

Even on coal produced electricity, one could run nine Leafs for the pollution load of one typical gas car. This is because Leafs get the equivalent of 115 – 150 miles per gallon and stationary power plants have tremendous pollution control equipment, whereas mobile gasoline vehicles cannot practically carry such gear and the gasoline fleet average is 25 miles per gallon.

Electric cars do not “take sides” politically. They are the greenest, lowest carbon way to get around for you and your friends this side of a bicycle and they reduce dependence on foreign oil. This helps our economy and reduces cash transfers to oil rich countries that hate us and our more open culture. Electric cars are a win all the way around, and they are welcomed with free charging at expanding numbers of charge points both locally and across the country.

My experience driving electric is that all charging away from home has been free. There are three levels of charging, Level 1, or trickle charging being the lowest, Level 2, or 240 volt charging as intermediate and Level 3 or 500 volt supercharging bringing a low charge car to “full” in 20 minutes or so.

Why free? First understand that if the Leaf is low, near “empty,” a full charge would take about $1.50 worth of power. Both Colorado Springs Nissan dealers offer free Level 2 and Level 3 supercharging, and that is free to any electric vehicle, not just the Nissan Leaf. The owner of South Colorado Springs Nissan said it succinctly: “Tom, it costs me more to have staff providing free coffee to you or other waiting customers in the lobby than it costs me in electricity to top up your car.” There are other Level 2 charging stations around town, all at no cost. Every single place I have asked for trickle (extension cord type) charging has said “Yes.” – Chase Bank, ENT Credit Union, Auto Zone, etc. to name a few, have all been fine with it. And I always ask before plugging in. PPLD is the first organization to say “yes,” and then “no.”

In conclusion, I think that electric vehicle charging is becoming like free WiFi. Free charging is trivial in cost, and it encourages a segment of the population to do business right there, where they charge their car. I understand Whole Foods will soon offer two Level 2 charging spots to compete with the free Level 2 charging at “First and Main Town Center” just north of them. Whole Foods might want to encourage green transportation, but free Level 2 charging makes sense from a business perspective as well.

It is nice to finally have a library just 30 miles round trip from our ranch at last. A beautiful facility with friendly staff, and I do understand your position with the public–kind of stuck between the dog and the fire hydrant. Whether charging is free or 30 cents, it’s too bad that the complainers who really have no understanding of the situation get to rule the day and push back progress.

(Library pooh-bah), thank you for your consideration.


Tom Preble

Tom Preble Picture (3)

Rancher/writer Tom Preble lives in his self-built, earth-bermed, and energy-efficient home and ranch on the Palmer Divide east of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Something of a Renaissance Man, Tom has wide ranging interests, from astronomy to welding to philosophy. Trained as a computer electronics engineer, Tom is retired now and looks forward to expanding his writing.

Photo By: Ilene Preble