City Employee Denied Use of County-Owned Plug to Charge Chevy Volt


Cord Gets Cut on Volt Owner

Cord Gets Cut For Now on Volt Owner

Chevy Volt  Not Allowed to Plug In

Chevy Volt Owned by City Employee Not Allowed to Plug In

M Live is reporting that a Chevy Volt Owner who happens to work for the city of South Haven, Michigan as a District Court employee has been denied the use of a plug connected to the courthouse.

This response in this case does make sense to us, as Volt owner Laura Canaan doesn’t have rights to this plug, despite her protest that city buses use it all the time.

Those buses, which are owned by the city, plug-in at this location during the winter months to ensure that they’ll start in the cold-weather conditions.  In other words, this plug already has a function and is not merely an auxilliary plug.

For some reason though Canaan made an issue over this in June, saying the Volt’s battery pack doesn’t quite have the capacity required for her to make the round-trip commute on electricity alone.

Canaan figures her Volt was using (yes, she did actually plug in at the courthouse for awhile with consent) 17 cents of electricity per day.  The Volt driver offered to pay the city for her daily electricity usage, but her request was denied.

Not denied officially, but rather the Van Buren County commissioners decided to take no action on the request put forth by Kanaan.

We admit to being on the side of Van Buren County on this one and here’s why.  The county admits to having only one county-owned plug for use by parked vehicles.  If Kanaan was granted use of this plug, the county would soon be asked by other city workers to install chargers on its 13 other county-owned buildings.  The county lacks the funds at the moment to do this and therefore sees it as unfair to allow only its workers at the South Haven Courthouse access to a plug, while denying all of its other employees due to the simple fact that it doesn’t have chargers installed at all of its locations.

Ms. Canaan was allowed to use the plug while the County deliberated, and now they have decided to not make it publically available (at least no one was arrested).   We do hope that in the future they will reconsider there stance on installing charging equipment; or even providing 120V equipment.

As County Commissioner Richard Freestone stated:

The concept is wrong” since the county doesn’t provide energy for other types of employee vehicles.

Source: M Live

Categories: Charging, Chevrolet


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37 Comments on "City Employee Denied Use of County-Owned Plug to Charge Chevy Volt"

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Seems like quite a leap of an assumption… “If Kanaan was granted use of this plug, the county would soon be asked by other city workers to install chargers on its 13 other county-owned buildings”

How does letting someone use a 120v outlet lead to having to install “chargers” at all 13 county owned buildings? Charger is the incorrect term as well. The Volt has a charger. You can use its EVSE for 120v or plug into a 220v EVSE, ie a charge station. The charger is always in the Volt. For DC quick charging, the charger is outside the vehicle, but the Volt does not support DC quick charging unlike the LEAF.

Because if one government employee gets to do something, then ALL government employees MUST have those same opportunities. Otherwise they get all bent out of shape and complain about being discriminated against or something.

Source: I’m a 15-year govt employee

A 19 year government employee here and I pay $.75 per day for the use of a county 208V circuit for which I bought a charge station. No other employees have bought electric cars as of yet as we are a conservative stronghold but I am sure if they worked out a similar deal it could be granted for them as well. No net expense to the County taxpayers and helps me stay all electric on my to work commute. They even make a little profit on my plugging in. I do not mind for the convenience of having a full charge after work really helps me out.

The concept is NOT wrong. Any employee can choose a plug-in car over a similarly priced ICE. The county should at least install 120V 20A GFI outlets for the employees and others that wish to use them, and charge them enough to pay for installation and electricity.

People with ICE cars are taken care of by a huge network of gas stations. It is not right for them to complain when plug-in owners want to charge their cars to get home or run errands.

I am really surprised that “we” (Inside EVs) official position is that employees should be denied the opportunity to pay for workplace charging. After home charging, workplace charging is the biggest EV enabler there is (after that comes public DC fast charging). You really should reconsider your stance on workplace charging.


Lol. Such a kerfuffle. EVs simply should not get their propulsion paid for- no matter how miniscule the price- by local government. The offer to pay is also not genuine as the driver did not offer to pay for the installation of a dedicated plug.

Make other arrangements, preferably with a private garage or lot nearby.

Obviously you do not own a plug-in car. Nuff said.

OK, I own a plug-in and agree with Taser54–why should a government be asked to pay for any employee’s fuel?

Agreed, a private vehicle should be up to the private owners responsibility to pay for its use. Not a cost shared by tax payers. If a business decides to do it, then that is on them, however this is a government facility whose costs are paid by the public.

While I believe there should be more emphasis on public charging, I don’t believe that if there is an existing use, that the existing infrastructure should be provided for a private use without the private use being compensated by the private user.

I have a Volt btw, and make extensive use of public charging. However I would not use a plug unless I have permission for it.

I own 2 plug in cars, but work in the private sector. Gov’t employees on average make DOUBLE what equivalent work in the private sector pays. And the retirement plans also pay 4 to 5 times what private plans would.\

Its not unreasonable for such a highly paid employee to expect to pay what it costs… Her offer of 17 cents is ridiculous… If she is fully charging her volt, the cost is $1.40 at least.

I notice this all the time, such as “My EV costs only 1/5 of what a gasoline powered vehicle costs”. Not around here it doesn’t. In perfect spring or fall weather it is 1/3 the cost, assuming some hypermilling is done. In typical wintertime weather, it is about 3 times the cost of gasoline. (Electric heating along with battery charge/discharge inefficiency really racks up the kwh).

I bet if she offered to pay $2 per day ( or $10 /week ) for the privilege, her employer may have warmed up to the idea a bit more.

As it is, it seems to this reader that she is simply chiseling out another fringe benefit for herself.

File this one under “EV Growing Pains”.

We, as a society, are just starting to sort out what happens when cars run on electrons instead of gasoline or diesel fuel. I expect to see social convention, technology, and the law in a three-way wrestling match for some time.

And I consider this a good sign. We can’t get to electrified transportation without going through this kind of messiness, so the sooner we do it and reach some consensus on what the rules are, the better.

If battery prices drop by as much as many are predicting over the next few years (or anything close to it), I expect we’ll see a lot more plug-in cars (EVs + PHEVs) on the road and a big uptick in such stories.

As badly as I want to drive electric, I can’t beg for nor expect my employer to expend any effort to accommodate my vehicle choice. Therefore I don’t see the decision by the county as wrong. It would be nice if they did start installing charging infrastructure, but I wouldn’t expect that until they hear from a great many more people asking for it.

This is not a question of “vehicle choice” but of the public good.

The county should decide whether encouraging EVs is in the interest of the public good.

True, it has been dragged into the issue in a strange manner, so their current decision is understandable.

But pretending that EVs vs. ICE is some narcissistic “consumer choice” like Coke vs. Pepsi, is missing the point. It is not.

The right thing to do for Ms. Canaan and other local EV drivers, is lobby the county to make some policy decisions in support of EVs. Then specific cases like this one will be subject to that general decision.

So, public policy is one thing–for example, Sacramento offers a number of benefits for EV owners including free parking in City lots and access to free charging in city lots. If City leaders decide that’s how they want to invest taxpayer dollars, the that is fine. Some employers offer workplace charging as a company policy as a green initiative or simply for the tax breaks. That is also cool.

However, that is different that ad hoc subsidizing individuals, which this is. Ms Canaan is full capable of making the roundtrip commute in her Volt without any taxpayer involvement, but would rather not. I understand her goal to stay all electric, but I fail to see why this becomes her employer’s issue. If she wants an outlet, pay to have one installed and cover the cost of the electricity.

Did you not read the article? She wanted to pay, they said no.

Yes. She wanted to use an outlet that had an established purpose: engine block warmers for buses. Why should the county pay to install and maintain infrastructure purely to meet the needs of one of its employees?

I think Mr. Ellyatt took the best approach by paying to have his own plug installed and reimburse the county for the electricity.

Her offer of $.17 is ridiculous if she is charging her vehicle up fully, the cost being around $1. 40.

Since she is charging during the day, she is loading down the grid during the worst part of the day and it could be considered “grid hating”. She should charge home overnight when it is ‘grid friendly’, on her own dime. She certainly is increasing the court building’s demand charge for the month. The block heaters probably work during the night and therefore do not increase the demand charge.

The more of us that drive electric the more dollars stay in this country. That helps the economy for all of us. This could certainly be a financial decision for all of us as it was for me. Clean air is good too of course but keeping dollars in the USA is the primary reason to drive electric. We can all help by encouraging infrastructure at home and at work the two primary places EV owners plug-in and yes we all benefit whether we plug in or not.

Actually, that’s out of date. Currently, the US exports more fuel than it imports (granted, thats not including Canada, but most view Canada rather as a 51st state, and there was even talk about that from some Canadian officials about “Some closer relationship with the US should Quebec secede).

Although I do use ‘free’ (to me) facilities on occassion, I really don’t expect people in general to pay for my hobbies. If all the ‘public’ charging facilities around here were ‘pay as you go’, and had absolutely no gov’t subsidy, I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I’d pay to fuel my vehicles myself. Unfortunately, it would then be a while before general purpose chargers came into effect.

A good example of a ‘semi-private’ solution that is working well to date is Tesla’s $2000 per car solution of free supercharging for life, or until Musk changes his mind.. Right now, their great!

The US exports 1-2 million barrels per day more finished petroleum products than it imports, but in order to do that it imports 7-8 million barrels per day of crude oil:

It’s still a big importer of fuel overall. Even with the fracking boom, it still imports more than it exports (though at least that’s from Canada).

Waiting until “a great many” people buy EVs to offer workplace charging is not the fastest way to get EVs in the hands of a great many people. Better for them to see coworkers living happily with their EVs, then they will be more likely to buy one themselves.

“Making arrangements with a private lot or garage nearby” is a great idea if you can do it. However not all workplaces have this. Employers and coworkers (and Inside EVs!) should be supportive in my opinion, but very often are not.

Finally, if you want to use an existing unused outlet, I see no need to offer to pay for its installation. Offering to pay for the electricity should be enough. If you want extra outlets installed for you and your coworkers, then it would be appropriate to pay for installation and maintenance as well as electricity.


“If Kanaan was granted use of this plug, the county WOULD soon be asked by other city workers to install chargers on its 13 other county-owned buildings.”

Eric, it looks like you made a typo. Instead of “would” the correct word is “could” or “may,” unless you can somehow magically see into the future. But if you used “could” or “may” you would be a hypocrite, since you so strongly criticized Reuters for using “could” and “may” in their article on the Tesla Model S garage fire.

/counldn’t resist the opportunity

When did common sense fly out the window? An employer/company who creates a facility and infrastructure is the decider on what can be used / consumed by the employees and/or visitors. Why is this such a hard concept to grasp? If unsure about using something you do not own, assume NO and contact the facility manager and I am sure they will provide an answer. My employee handbook states ‘it is the discretion of the company to determine what services are offered to employees. This includes personal computers, mobile phones, and corporate Internet services.’ If I were Ms. Cannan’s manager, I would sign her up for a course in ethics. I appreciate her PERSONAL desire to use less fossil fuel, but the more professional approach would be to formally place a request for EV charging access for ALL employees (make a business case for it) to Human Resources or her manager. The facility manager will factor in liability, safety, and other factors when evaluating her request. – Who will be liable when someone trips over her charging cord and breaks their hip? – When a power spike shorts her charger who is liable? – When the employee / owner… Read more »

See my comment above.

You seem so happy to throw the book, no, an entire bookcase, at Ms. Canaan.

Kind of totally, incidentally, overlooking the fact that both she and the county are finding themselves in historically new situation, and are trying to do what is right (both environmentally and in terms of employee relations).

One can only wonder why you are so hostile and condescending towards a private citizen and fellow EV driver you don’t really know.

Why won’t you chuck her in jail like they did to Mr. Kamooneh, and get done with it?

And also seemingly ignoring that she offered to pay for the electricity but was denied. It’s too bad, really.

Perhaps she should trade the Volt for a Leaf. Problem solved.

@ Assaf ‘You seem so happy to throw the book, no, an entire bookcase, at Ms. Canaan.’ Interesting perspective that you consider ‘evaluating the motives of Ms. Canaan’ throwing the book at a person. What you consider a ‘new’ situation is as old as the hills. Employees and Employers have and will continue to sort out employee wishes versus the benefit to the company / society at large. A few facts… – Her ‘green’ motivation was reducing her PERSONAL gasoline bill by $230 per month – She has offered to pay for the electricity ONLY but not the proper charging infrastructure for a public facility. Her charger may not be suitable from a safety perspective (foot traffic, etc.) – The employer does decide if charging your personal mobile phone aids employee productivity – The outlet was never established for PERSONAL but business use and do you seriously think Ms Canaan will be willing to share or cede access to the outlet to another employee with a similar need I have witnessed grown adults have a tantrum because an airport employee unplugged their laptop from a power outlet (used for airport-related service functions). ‘One can only wonder why you are so… Read more »

You still haven’t explain your motivation in being so hostile. Instead, you just heap fallacy upon fallacy.

Ms. Canaan’s employer is *not* a business so please stop referring to it in this way. It is the local government, whose set of priorities and policies is vastly different from that of a private business.

You assert a telepathic view into Ms. Canaan’s mind and motives. Acting as prosecutor judge and jury, you proclaim her green motives to be “false”, against all evidence, and vilify her beyond belief just because she made a public motion, through proper channels, to allow EV charging from that dang 110v plug.

Again, I wonder where your mendacious attitude comes from. Still waiting for an honest answer.

Or is it just the joys of anonymous talkback commenting? Par for the course. Thank you for making the Internet a better place. Not.

Are you related to this person or what?

Since you are offering suggestions, I share one with you. Take the time to study a subject before making simplistic and unsupported statements on a blog.

Source for Canaan’s Comments

I hope charging stations are made available to all employees at her employer but there is no reason the cost of installing them, the electricity usage, and maintenance should not be charged to the user based on a reasonable formula. Local governments are funded by taxpayers and this expense should not be placed on those of lower income and non EV owners unless a referendum is voted upon.

Ms Canaan should pay for the time her vehicle occupies a charging space on a daily basis at work.


Thanks for the link. Reading that article it sounds like Ms. Canaan asked for permission to plug in, received permission, and offered to pay. Seems plenty reasonable and ethical to me. If her offer was not high enough, it would be up to the seller (her employeer) to ask a higher price.

I don’t see why you think she should have offered more, although if I was the employeer I might consider your thoughts on possible expenses.

How would you feel if denied the use of gas stations? EV owners need plugs where their vehicle park for long periods of time. After home, work is the second longest time for your vehicle to be parked.

I do agree that free workplace charging is a minefield to be avoided. Just give employees a chance to buy charging at a reasonable price that covers employeer expenses and still is affordable by someone that just spent all of their gas money on a big battery on wheels.


Thanks for the reply and comments. I’m struggling with the notion of a person having a Volt with a range extender (no anxiety) wanting to charge at a local government municipality and not being expected to pay for the electricity + an acceptable charger + needed maintenance on a daily basis.

She (Canaan) only notes the electricity costs and ignores the initial capital investment and maintenance.

It feels unethical to me when a poor or lower class person pays sales tax and fees to allow to save $250 a month for gas by using free govt. services. Those ‘services and maintenance are not really free in my opinion and add up.

The county administrator says it was a mistake to let her use the outlet.

“I should not have done that,” Cultra told commissioners.
Canaan, who said she saved 65 gallons of gas in May in commutes from Holland, told commissioners the recharges cost 17 cents a day, or $36 a year.

“I’m happy to pay Van Buren County for the electric I use,” Canaan said. The saved gas would have cost $230 a month.

Question: Am I seeing this from the wrong perspective?

The assumption is that any additional capital is needed. Many places have very appropriate outlets that can be used with no safety concerns.

“An appropriate charger” can be a 110V outlet for many.

A range extender should also not preclude people from trying/wanting to maximize their electric miles, and here she went through all the proper steps to try and do so.

‘here she went through all the proper steps to try and do so’

Yet the person who initially approved the use of the outlet acknowledges it was a mistake to do so. To allow Canaan to have sole use of an outlet for charging an entire day and deny it to other employees will be a problem.

An onsite charging program available to all is preferred in my option

Someone acknowledging a mistake at the urging of their employer is not evidence of anything. It doesn’t change the fact that she went through the proper steps to receive permission to charge, nor does it change the fact that additional infrastructure is not needed.

I also not sure where you get your assumption that permission implies she would use it all day and nobody else could. If she was only a bit short of her range as she indicates, she would likely only need a charge for about 2 hours out of the day.

At least she asked.

I wonder if she ran an extension cord from her desk, if then that would be OK? She could charge her cell phone and car from the same outlet. 🙂

I guess having minus 30°C temps here over the winter [it was minus 34° last night] can be a good thing. There are over 3000 110 amp outlets in Winnipeg [Canada] at public parking lots and employee parking lots to plug in our 1500 watt block heaters. Public parking is on average $1.00 per hour or $6.00 a day and most businesses provide free or low cost parking for employs and customers. I never thought our very cold winters could be such a bonus in relieving range anxiety.