If you are parking at a location where a power outlet is prominently located, unlocked, and has no signage to the contrary, I believe that it would be perfectly acceptable to plug into it (think about motor block heaters in Canada and Alaska).
In AK, this can cause damage to property without plugging in and possibly cause a life threatening condition (if you were stupid enough). Its a little bit more dire straights than just needing a little bit of a (free) charge. The irony is that, while most block heaters for cars are around 400 watts, a block heater for a big truck can be around the same L1 charging wattage!! (its practically a hair dryer) Even more ironic is that outlets are plentiful, and nobody cares about who owes what amount of money. Funny that people mope and whine about giving away/building L1 infrastructure for something nobody would think twice about in Alaska. And electricity is a load more expensive in AK.
There are no real laws on the books on who gets to plug in for block heating. As long as i was not illegally parked (and worth being towed), i could plug in without being bothered.
BUT...it seems ethically an entirely different thing if I were to plug in on a summer day in Fairbanks AK. I'd get some interesting looks ("stupid tourist")..and then outright anguish when they saw it was an electric car. I'd look like a freeloader i bet. Whenever i talk about the leaf, i ask alaskans and they laugh at the possibly of never paying to refuel the car...but realistically...i dont know if anyone would dare to abuse it.
DarkStar wrote:I don't see why this would be any different then sitting down in a library or restaurant and using a public, unsecured wireless network for internet access...
I'm really going to have to disagree with you on this one. You've brought up "unsecured wireless" twice but I do not think that this is a fair comparison. Most areas I am aware of do not charge per KB - it's a flat-rate fee for data. Of course there are some exceptions and some limits but for the most part you pay per month and you have your access. I don't know anyone that does electricity that way. Additionally, as pointed out by Train a public access point is just that - a public access point. It was purposely set up for people to freely use it. But just because an outlet exists does not mean it was put there for public use.
There are some that will argue that any unsecured wireless point should be a free for all, but even if you disagree you're still (in most cases) not costing that person any money.
There was actually a case (and i am not sure if he was sentenced or if the charges were dropped), where a business got mad that someone, day after day, without buying coffee, would use their wifi in the business parking lot. There was a sign that specifically said "Free WiFi with purchase of coffee". The wireless network was otherwise, completely unsecured.
They called the police one day and he was charged with a felony charge of theft.