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On July 22, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569 celebrated the installation of two new electric-vehicle charging stations powered by solar panels on their building’s Clairemont Mesa roof. Senator Christine Kehoe and representatives of the National Electric Contractors Association, the Sierra Club, and Operation Free made an appearance outside the union’s offices.

While the IBEW plans to convert a large portion of its vehicles to electric-only in the future, most at present are hybrids and do not require the use of charging stations. The stations are not exclusive-use — anyone in the area is encouraged to stop by and use them for free.

“We hope our solar-powered unit inspires more like it,” said Johnny Simpson, the Local 569 business manager.

“San Diegans are adopting electric vehicles at an unprecedented rate,” said Senator Kehoe. “Having convenient charging stations must be a part of the program.” According to IBEW business manager Johnny Simpson, 1500 stations are planned for installation in the region.

Retired Marine lance corporal Brian VanRiper was also among the speakers, representing Operation Free. The group feels that continued reliance on imported fossil fuel poses a threat to national security. VanRiper asked the crowd, “Do we want to be buying our oil from people like Hugo Chávez or Muammar Gaddafi? People who have stated they wish to see the United States perish?”

VanRiper praised solar power, noting how technological advances have assisted troops in the field by allowing them to recharge battery-powered devices instead of carrying up to 85 pounds of spare batteries on missions.

Pictured: Brian VanRiper, Christine Kehoe

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