To: Woody Smeck, Acting Superintendent, Yosemite National Park
Bob Concienne, V.P. of Operations, Yosemite Hospitality, LLC
Frank Dean, President & CEO, Yosemite Conservancy
Subject: Expanding electric vehicle charging in Yosemite to reduce local air and noise pollution, and GHG emissions
Suggested Charging Sites
To reduce transportation-related air and noise pollution, GHG emissions and congestion, shuttle buses have been provided to transport visitors inside the park, and the YARTS bus system was established to transport visitors between surrounding communities and Yosemite. However, the majority of visitors still reach the park via private vehicle, and due to personal choice or because buses don't run when/where they need, they often do substantial amounts of driving inside the park as well.
In order to reduce pollution from these latter vehicles, it is important to encourage the use of Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs), which consist of two major types: Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), which run on batteries some of the time; and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), which run on batteries all the time. Providing a greater number of charging facilities for them, more widely distributed inside the park, will allow their use for travel to and from the park, and ensure that most or all of the miles which these vehicles may drive inside the park will be on electricity, near silent and and having zero tailpipe emissions. An additional advantage of PEVs inside the park is that range when running on batteries is still considerably less than is typical of Internal Combustion-Engined vehicles (ICEs); range on batteries can always be increased by slowing down, so PEV drivers are more likely to adhere to park speed limits, reducing the number of animals killed or injured in collisions.
I believe it is important to provide at least some initial increase in charging facilities at sites both inside and outside the Valley, by the start of the summer season of 2017, for the following reasons:
- 1. Until now, the only BEVs which as a practical matter had the range to visit the park from charging stations outside it were very expensive models by Tesla. That is about to change, as GM will introduce the sub-$40k MSRP, 200+ mile range Bolt BEV by the end of this year, and several other companies will follow with similarly-priced models over the next two years.
2. PHEVs have no trouble reaching the park, but until recently weren't available in the vehicle type most desired by outdoors enthusiasts, all-wheel drive (AWD) Crossover Utility Vehicles/Sport Utility Vehicles (CUVs/SUVs), so their numbers have been lower in the park than would otherwise be the case. That has recently changed, currently at the expensive end of the scale (Porsche/BMW/Volvo etc.), but several more affordable PHEV AWD CUVs are due to be introduced in 2017-18.
Despite the fact that the San Francisco Bay Area has the highest percentage of PEVs per capita in the country and the second largest total (Greater L.A. is first), there are only two official charging sites inside the park, both in the Valley. Other national parks, such as Zion and Yellowstone, have made greater progress installing charging facilities despite having a much smaller nearby PEV population. Yosemite's charging sites aren't listed in the 'Facilities' section of the Yosemite Guide or on the park's own website (they are listed on the concessioner websites for those facilities), although given that they can only handle a maximum of three cars simultaneously at the moment, only two of which are usable by all PEVs without after-market adapters, that's perhaps appropriate.
The number of charging stations at each charging site, as well as the number of charging sites both in and outside the Valley need to be increased, they must be usable by all PEVs without after-market adapters, and their locations must be advertised. I have explained my rationale as to where I believe charging sites should be located as well as the type and number of stations at each site, in the Suggested Charging Sites section which follows.
Money to fund such programs is always an issue, but improving park air quality and reducing noise and GHG emissions is desired by the Park Service, Yosemite Hospitality LLC and the Yosemite Conservancy, all of which may be willing to fund some of this work. Crowd-funding by PEV owners is also a possibility.
I will be happy to provide any advice or assistance I can to advance this. My interest in improving access by PEVs to and inside the Park is personal rather than professional, due solely to my desire to improve visitors' experience of Yosemite, which I have been privileged to enjoy regularly ever since I first visited Tuolumne Meadows as a young child over 50 years ago. I have no business or financial interest in, or connection with any company providing charging or other electrical equipment, electrical utilities or auto manufacturers. However, in the early 1990s I worked for a small company that sold off-grid renewable energy equipment and also designed complete off-grid systems, and while so employed I proposed, designed and with the assistance of the hut ranger/caretaker installed the photovoltaic lighting and water-pumping systems at Ostrander Lake ski hut, which I have visited almost every winter since 1980.