Mom in Grovetown calls cops on U.S. energy secretary’s staff

You can hear the frustration in the voice of a 911 caller complaining about a non-electric vehicle hogging one of the chargers to save it for someone else.
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 7:37 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 8:08 AM EDT
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GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - When someone in a gas-powered vehicle hogged an electric car charger to reserve it for someone else, that didn’t sit well with a frustrated family in Grovetown.

It was probably even more frustrating because the charger was being saved for the U.S. energy secretary, according to news reports.

It happened just before 2:10 p.m. June 27 at a Walmart in Grovetown.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was in the middle of a four-day trip from Charlotte to Memphis to promote electric vehicles, and she needed to stop for a recharge.


Camila Domonoske was riding with Granholm and wrote an article for NPR that included the Grovetown incident.

As Granholm and her entourage were approaching Grovetown, her advance team saw that there weren’t going to be enough chargers at the Walmart, according to Domonoske’s article.

So a staffer parked a gas vehicle in front of one of the chargers to save it for the dignitaries.

That’s when a family waiting to charge their car – on a broiling day with a baby in the vehicle – called Columbia County 911 to complain.

“I’m calling because I’m at the Grovetown Walmart at the charging station, and there’s literally a non-electric car that is taking up the space,” the caller says in a recording obtained by News 12. “He says they’re holding the space for somebody else, and it’s holding up a whole bunch of people who need to charge their cars.”

The caller complains that a sign clearly states the space is only for cars that are being charged. When the caller is told to get the tag number of the offending vehicle, the driver tells her the space is being saved for someone who’ll be there in a couple of minutes.

A deputy was sent, but authorities determined no law had been broken.

That’s why deputies couldn’t give News 12 an incident report when we asked for one.

But they did give us a recording of the 911 call, which you can listen to for yourself.

Domonoske said Energy Department employees did scramble to smooth any ruffled feathers and make sure the frustrated family and the energy secretary could both charge their vehicles.

When News 12 contacted Energy Department officials to tell their side of the story, a staffer asked if they could have our recording of the 911 call. We told them it was a public record and directed them to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, where they could get their own copy.

Press Secretary Charisma L. Troiano then sent us this statement:

“For over a decade, while our global competitors geared up for the clean energy transition, America lagged behind. Now, with President Biden’s historic Investing in America agenda we have over $7 billion to build out convenient and reliable EV charging infrastructure, a portion of which is already awarded to every state, D.C. and Puerto Rico. The private sector is following suit with equally ambitious investments – growing our workforce and keeping money in the pockets of hardworking Americans”