Good Neighbors Make Plugshare Work

By Paul Gipe

We’ve been listed on since we installed our Electric Vehicle (EV) charge system.

Plugshare is a crowd-sourced web site of EV charge stations, or in terms of the trade, Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). The idea behind it is that those with EVSE’s can “share” their stations with other EV drivers.

Of course, Plugshare has become much more. Many of the stations on Plugshare are in commercial networks that offer a charge for a fee. Nevertheless, there are many private participants who offer their charge stations to EV drivers in need.

We’ve been contacted by EV drivers a few times about charging at our home here in Bakersfield, but none have showed up. That is, until John Rowell from Exeter called.

John is one of the EV pioneers. I read about him and his drive to Mineral King in a Nissan Leaf before we had one of our own. He is one of our EV heros for pushing current consumer-oriented EVs to their limits.

We were on our way to Yosemite National Park when John called. He wanted to charge at our house. Fine, I said, we wouldn’t be home but he could pull into the driveway and charge. We called our neighbors Dalia and Manuel and warned them that an EV would be pulling into our drive and not to call the cops. They’re good neighbors and always keep a watch on our house when we’re away—and we’re away often.

We left a car in the drive. That’s not a problem for the Leaf with its charge port in the nose. We park the Leaf nose-in and charge with no problem. Our ClipperCreek charge cable is sufficient to reach the Leaf’s nose.

John now drives a Mitsubishi iMiev. It never occurred to me to ask where his charge port is on the Mitsubishi, but it’s not on the nose. Therein lies the rub.

I later checked Plugshare for our station and saw that John had successfully charged.

When we returned home, Nancy chatted with Dalia and Manuel and got the rest of the story.

As I noted, John is accustomed to pushing the limits. He arrived in Bakersfield with enough charge to reach a hotel on the north side of town. He knew our location from Plugshare and figured he had enough charge to go on to our home in northeast Bakersfield.Not quite. John reached turtle—the dreaded last stage of running out of juice—when he arrived in the neighborhood. He made it up our drive but the charge cable wasn’t long enough to reach his charge port. So he had to go back down the drive and back in. He didn’t have the charge to make it back up the drive. Ouch.

Now the Mitsubishi iMiev is a small car, but it isn’t that small. John wasn’t strong enough on his own to push it up the drive.

Manuel saw John struggling and offered to use his Jeep. Manuel parked his Jeep on his lawn and with a towing strap that John carries for just such emergencies, he pulled the Mitsubishi up our driveway. John plugged in and began charging.

Without Manuel and his Jeep, John would have had to call a tow truck.

Manuel and Dolia are great neighbors and we’ve always kept them informed of our EV project and the possibility that someday someone might come by and charge. They were glad to pitch in when the time came.

John got his charge and made it back to Exeter.

Once we got home and heard the story, I picked up a couple dozen bakery cookies for Manuel—with strict instructions to share with Dalia.

I’ve amended our entry on Plugshare to warn drivers that our driveway is up a slight hill and that Leafs can park nose in, others need to back in.

If we’re home, we’ll move the second car to make it easier for everyone to charge.

Without good neighbors like Manuel and Dalia, our Plugshare offer wouldn’t have helped John.