EV charging station cables being stolen for scrap

File – Tesla vehicles charge at a station in Emeryville, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.  (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez, File)

DETROIT (AP) — Just before 2 a.m. on a chilly April night in Seattle, a Chevrolet Silverado pickup stopped at an electric vehicle charging station on the edge of a shopping center parking lot.

Two men, one with a light strapped to his head, got out. A security camera recorded them pulling out bolt cutters. One man snipped several charging cables; the other loaded them into the truck. In under 2½ minutes, they were gone.

The scene that night has become part of a troubling pattern across the country: Thieves have been targeting EV charging stations, intent on stealing the cables, which contain copper wiring. The price of copper is near a record high on global markets, which means criminals stand to collect rising sums of cash from selling the material.

The stolen cables often disable entire stations, forcing EV owners on the road to search desperately for a working charger. For the owners, the predicament can be exasperating and stressful.

Broken-down chargers have emerged as the latest obstacle for U.S. automakers in their strenuous effort to convert more Americans to EVs despite widespread public anxiety about a scarcity of charging stations. About 4 in 10 U.S. adults say they believe EVs take too long to charge or don’t know of any charging stations nearby.

If even finding a charging station doesn’t necessarily mean finding functioning cables, it becomes one more reason for skeptical buyers to stick with traditional gasoline-fueled or hybrid vehicles, at least for now.

America’s major automakers have made heavy financial bets that buyers will shift away from combustion engines and embrace EVs as the world faces the worsening consequences of climate change. Accordingly, the companies have poured billions into EVs.

Stellantis envisions 50% of its passenger cars being EVs by the end of 2030. Ford set a target of producing 2 million EVs per year by 2026 — about 45% of its global sales — though it has since suspended that goal. General Motors, the most ambitious of the three, has pledged to sell only EV passenger cars by the end of 2035.

Any such timetables, of course, hinge on whether the companies can convince more would-be EV buyers that a charge will always be available when they travel. The rise in cable thefts isn’t likely to strengthen the automakers’ case.

Two years ago, according to Electrify America, which runs the nation’s second-largest network of direct-current fast chargers, a cable might be cut perhaps every six months at one of its 968 charging stations, with 4,400 plugs nationwide. Through May this year, the figure reached 129 — four more than in all of 2023. At one Seattle station, cables were cut six times in the past year, said Anthony Lambkin, Electrify America’s vice president of operations.

“We’re enabling people to get to work, to take their kids to school, get to medical appointments,” Lambkin said. “So to have an entire station that’s offline is pretty impactful to our customers.”

Two other leading EV charging companies — Flo and EVgo — also have reported a rise in thefts. Charging stations in the Seattle area have been a frequent target. Sites in Nevada, California, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Pennsylvania have been hit, too.

Stations run by Tesla, which operates the nation’s largest fast-charging network, have been struck in Seattle, Oakland and Houston. So far this year, Seattle police have reported seven cases of cable thefts from charging stations, matching the number for all of 2023. Thieves hit Tesla stations four times this year compared with just once last year, the Seattle police said.

“Vandalism of public charging infrastructure in the Seattle metro area has unfortunately been increasing in frequency,” EVgo said.

The company said law enforcement officials are investigating the thefts while it tries to repair inoperable stations and considers a longer-term solution.

The problem isn’t confined to urban areas. In rural Sumner, Washington, south of Seattle, thieves cut cables twice at a Puget Sound Energy charging station. The company is working with police and the property owner to protect the station.

Until a month ago, police in Houston knew of no cable thefts. Then one was stolen from a charger at a gas station. The city has now recorded eight or nine such thefts, said Sgt. Robert Carson, who leads a police metal-theft unit.

In one case, thieves swiped 18 of 19 cords at a Tesla station. That day, Carson visited the station to inspect the damage. In the first five minutes that he was there, Carson said, about 10 EVs that needed charging had to be turned away.

In very large cities like Houston, charging stations typically contain an especially large number of plugs and cables, so thefts can be particularly damaging.

“They’re not just taking one,” Carson said. “When they’re hit, they’re hit pretty hard.”

Roy Manuel, an Uber driver who normally recharges his Tesla at the Houston station hit by thieves, said he fears being unable to do so because of stolen cables.

“If my battery was really low, I’d have quite an issue with operating my vehicle,” he said. “If it was so low that I couldn’t get to another charger, I might be in trouble. Might even need a tow truck.”

The charging companies say it’s become clear that the thieves are after the copper that the cables contain. In late May, copper hit a record high of nearly $5.20 a pound, a result, in part, of rising demand resulting from efforts to cut carbon emissions with EVs that use more copper wiring. The price is up about 25% from a year ago, and many analysts envision further increases.

Charging companies say there isn’t actually very much copper in the cables, and what copper is there is difficult to extract. Carson estimates that criminals can get $15 to $20 per cable at a scrap yard.

“They’re not making a significant amount of money,” he said. “They’re not going to be sailing on a yacht anywhere.”

Still, the more cables the thieves can steal, the more they can cash in. At $20 a cable, 20 stolen cables could fetch $400.

The problem for the charging companies is that it’s much costlier to replace cables. In Minneapolis, where cables have been clipped at city-owned charging stations, it costs about $1,000 to replace just one cable, said Joe Laurin, project manager in the Department of Public Works.

The charging companies are trying to fight back. Electrify America is installing more security cameras. In Houston, police are visiting recycling centers to look for stolen metal.

But it’s often hard for the scrap yards to determine conclusively whether metal came from a charging cable. Thieves often burn off the insulation and just sell strands of metal.

The Recycled Materials Association, which represents 1,700 members, is issuing scrap-theft alerts from law enforcement officials so that members can be on the lookout for suspects and stolen goods.

Because charging stations are often situated in remote corners of parking lots, Carson suggested that many more security cameras are needed.

In the meantime, Electrify America said Seattle police are trying to track down the thieves in the video. And Carson said the Houston police are pursuing leads in the Tesla theft.

“We’d like to get them stopped,” he said, “and then let the court system do what they’re supposed to do.”

___

AP Video Journalist Lekan Oyekanmi contributed to this report from Houston.

Dog fight! Joey Chestnut ‘gutted’ to be out of July 4 hot dog eating contest over brand dispute

FILE – Joey Chestnut, center left, celebrates winning the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest in Coney Island on July 4, 2022, in New York. Organizers announced on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, that Chestnut won’t compete in this year’s competition due to a contract dispute. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Joey “Jaws” Chestnut, the reigning champion of the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hot dog eating contest, will not participate in this year’s event after signing a deal with a rival brand, organizers said Tuesday.

Chestnut, 40, has long been the face — not to mention the mouth — of the competition. He has vied for the dog-downing contest’s coveted Mustard Belt since 2005 and has won it almost every year since 2007, with the exception of a rare loss in 2015. In 2021, the Westfield, Indiana, resident ingested 76 franks and buns in 10 minutes, a record that still stands.

But Major League Eating event organizer George Shea says Chestnut is moving away from the contest due to a contract dispute.

“We love him. The fans love him,” Shea said, adding: “He made the choice.”

Chestnut disputed who made the choice, saying on the social platform X, “I do not have a contract with MLE or Nathans and they are looking to change the rules from past years as it relates to other partners I can work with.”

In a thread posted Tuesday night after the news broke, Chestnut said he had been training to defend his title at this year’s Independence Day event and only learned through media reports that he wouldn’t be allowed to compete.

“I was gutted to learn from the media that after 19 years Im banned,” Chestnut said on X. “To my fans, I love you and appreciate you. Rest assured that you’ll see me eat again soon!! STAY HUNGRY!”

Shea says Chestnut struck a deal with a competing brand — a red line for the Nathan’s-sponsored event. He wouldn’t say which brand but told the New York Times that Chestnut will be repping Impossible Foods, which makes vegan sausages. The company declined to comment on the deal. So did Chestnut.

Shea said the dispute came down to exclusivity, not money.

“It would be like Michael Jordan saying to Nike, ‘I’m going to represent Adidas, too,’” Shea said.

In response, Impossible Foods released a statement that didn’t address a deal with Chestnut but said that the company supports him in “any contest he chooses,” adding “Meat eaters shouldn’t have to be exclusive to just one wiener.”

In May, the company announced an ad campaign aimed at engaging meat-eaters who want to supplement their diet with more plant-based proteins, even if they don’t want to give up meat entirely.

The yearly bun fight, which dates back to 1972, sees large crowds of fans in foam hot-dog hats gather in front of the original Nathan’s Famous’ restaurant in Coney Island, Brooklyn, to cheer on the the competitors as they chow down. The contestants are allowed to dunk the dogs in cups of water to soften them up, creating a stomach-churning spectacle.

Those vying for second place in the past might have renewed hope to chomp their way to victory this year, including international competitors on the eating circuit.

Last year’s second-place winner was Geoffrey Esper from Oxford, Massachusetts, who downed 49 dogs to Chestnut’s 62. Third place went to Australia’s James Webb with 47.

This isn’t the first time the contest has parted ways with one of its biggest stars.

In 2010, Japanese eating champion Takeru Kobayashi, Chestnut’s then-rival, also stopped competing in the annual bun fight due to a contract dispute with Major League Eating. Kobayashi crashed the contest in a T-shirt reading “Free Kobi” and was arrested. He was sentenced to six months’ probation. Kobayashi announced his retirement from the sport last month.

Singer sues hospital, says staff thought he was mentally ill and wasn’t member of Four Tops

FILE – Roquel Payton, from left, Alexander Morris, and Ronnie McNeir of the Four Tops perform at the All In Music & Arts Festival in Indianapolis on Sept. 3, 2022. Morris filed a lawsuit Monday against Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren, Mich. He is claiming racial discrimination and other misconduct during a 2023 visit for chest pain and breathing problems. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)

WARREN, Mich. (AP) — The lead singer of the Four Tops said a Detroit-area hospital restrained him and ordered a psychological exam after refusing to believe that he was part of the Motown music group.

Alexander Morris, who is Black, filed a lawsuit Monday against Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital in Warren, alleging racial discrimination and other misconduct during an April 2023 visit for chest pain and breathing problems.

Hospital staff “wrongfully assumed he was mentally ill when he revealed his identity as a celebrity figure,” the lawsuit says.

The Four Tops started in the 1950s and had hits such as “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)″ and “It’s The Same Old Song.” The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

Morris is not an original member, but he joined the group in 2019.

The lawsuit says a nurse finally believed Morris was in the Four Tops and the psychological exam was canceled.

The hospital offered a $25 gift card as an apology, but Morris refused to accept it, the lawsuit says.

“We remain committed to honoring human dignity and acting with integrity and compassion for all persons and the community,” the hospital said in response to the lawsuit. “We do not condone racial discrimination of any kind. We will not comment on pending litigation.”

Morris talked publicly about the incident last year, saying he had returned to Detroit, his hometown, and was “being told that I’m insane or schizophrenic.”

New Castle Resident Pleads Guilty to Fentanyl and Cocaine Trafficking

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A resident of New Castle, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to a  charge of violating federal narcotics laws, United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan announced today.  

Dontae Blackshear, 25, pleaded guilty before Senior United States District Judge Arthur J.  Schwab to conspiring to distribute fentanyl and cocaine between May 2021 and October 2022.  

Blackshear was charged as part of a drug-trafficking crew operating in Mercer and Lawrence  counties in the Western District of Pennsylvania. As part of his plea agreement, Blackshear  stipulated that he was responsible for conspiring to distribute 20 grams of fentanyl and 100 grams of  cocaine. Blackshear has a prior state court felony drug-trafficking conviction from 2021 involving  fentanyl and heroin, for which he was sentenced to one to two years in prison and was on parole 

when he committed the federal drug-trafficking crime.  

Judge Schwab scheduled sentencing for October 16, 2024. The law provides for a maximum  total sentence of up to 30 years in prison, a fine of up to $2 million, or both. Under the federal  Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based on the seriousness of the offense  and the prior criminal history of the defendant. Blackshear remains detained pending sentencing.  

  

Assistant United States Attorney Craig W. Haller is prosecuting this case on behalf of the  United States. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, United States  Postal Inspection Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Lawrence County  Drug Task Force, Mercer County Drug Task Force, New Castle Police Department, Sharon Police  Department, and Pennsylvania State Police conducted the investigation leading to the conviction of  Blacksjustice

PennDOT Driver License, Photo Centers Closed for Juneteenth Holiday

Harrisburg, PA  The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) today announced that all driver license and photo centers, including its full-service center in Harrisburg, will be closed Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in observance of the Juneteenth holiday. June 19, known as Juneteenth National Freedom Day, is an official annual observance in Pennsylvania. Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865, when union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas – the furthest point in the south – with news of the end of the Civil War. Juneteenth is a day to commemorate emancipation and the steps we’ve taken towards freedom.

Deluzio Appointed to Subcommittees on Rail and Aviation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Chris Deluzio (PA-17) was formally appointed to his subcommittees on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. He is a member of both the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials, and the Subcommittee on Aviation.

The Congressman’s first hearings and actions as a member of the committee begin today. A wide-ranging group of national and Western Pennsylvania leaders shared their excitement about Congressman Deluzio’s appointment to the Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee last week.

“I am thrilled to be a member of the T&I subcommittees that have jurisdiction over our nation’s railroads, pipelines, hazardous materials, and aviation system,” said Rep. Deluzio. “Much of my first term in Congress has focused on fighting for rail safety in the aftermath of the East Palestine train derailment, and my membership on these subcommittees provides me even more opportunities to continue the fight to make freight rail safer for all of us and to drive growth and investment at Pittsburgh International Airport.”

The Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials has jurisdiction over the economic and safety regulation of railroads and the agencies that administer those regulations. Economic regulation is administered by the five-member Surface Transportation Board (STB). This independent agency also has the authority to address national emergencies as they affect the nation’s rail transportation system.

The Subcommittee also has jurisdiction over the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which is responsible for providing regulations and safety oversight of pipelines and pipeline facilities, as well as overseeing the transportation of hazardous materials.

Issues and agencies under the jurisdiction of the Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee include:

  • Economic regulation of railroads
  • Surface Transportation Board (STB)
  • Railroad safety, including safety practices, equipment, and reporting
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Railroad development programs, such as high-speed rail research and development
  • Rail infrastructure programs
  • Rail security
  • Amtrak
  • Amtrak Inspector General
  • Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission
  • Railroad retirement (regarding the benefit aspects) and unemployment
  • Railroad Retirement Board, which administers the retirement and unemployment programs unique to railroads
  • Railroad Retirement Board Inspector General
  • National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust
  • Railway Labor Act
  • The National Mediation Board, which administers the Railway Labor Act
  • Federal Employers’ Liability Act, which is the railroad worker-compensation statute
  • Hazardous materials transportation
  • Pipeline transportation safety
  • Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

The Subcommittee on Aviation has jurisdiction over all aspects of civil aviation, including safety, infrastructure, labor, and international issues. Within this scope of responsibilities, the Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a modal administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). This jurisdiction covers all programs within the FAA as well as aviation programs of the USDOT with respect to economic regulation of air carriers and passenger airline service. While jurisdiction over the NTSB is shared with other subcommittees, the Subcommittee on Aviation traditionally takes the lead on NTSB-related issues.

Issues within the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee on Aviation include:

  • Air traffic control modernization
  • Airport capacity
  • Airport Improvement Program grants
  • Airspace
  • Airline competition and antitrust issues
  • Aviation safety
  • Aviation security (issues that affect commerce and safety)
  • Commercial aviation and air carrier operations
  • Commercial space transportation
  • Airline consumer protection
  • Environmental requirements
  • Essential Air Service and other small-community air service programs
  • General aviation
  • Unmanned aircraft systems
  • International aviation
  • National Mediation Board
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • War risk insurance
  • Use of navigable airspace

Hopewell Area School District hears final feasibility update on buildings

Story by Sandy Giordano – Beaver County Radio. Published June 12, 2024 1:34 P.M.

(Hopewell Township, Pa) Dan Engen from DRAW Collective presented his final option recommendations to the district at Tuesday night’s  work session. At the board’s meeting on Tuesday, June 25, 2024 the board will meet in regular session to further discuss the options presented.

Matt Mottes was hired as the new head varsity football coach, replacing John Rosa.

During the meeting, employment of nine grade 7-12 teachers was approved for credit recovery classes. Rosetta Dufalla, English, Raymon Smith, Math, Martin Vallecorsa, Social Studies, Michael Gill, Science and Introduction to Scientific Methods, Betsy Lehman, Biology, Bronwyn Korchnak, Chemistry, Dean Nelson, Physics, Lisa Morell, Physical Education, Stephanie Valentine, BCIT. The teachers will be paid $150.00 per student.
Linda Cecela, kindergarten teacher at Independence Elementary School’s retirement became effective May 31, 2024.
Kelly Waibel, JV cheerleading sponsor resigned and has accepted the Head Varsity cheerleading sponsor effective May 31, 2024.
Angela Markowitz was hired as a Health Suite Assistant at Margaret Ross Elementary School effective June 12, 2024. Two summer custodial staff members were hired, Steven Slate and Kandy Helms.

Consumer Protection Committee approves bills to improve fee transparency, help data breach victims, boost energy & aviation fuel production

HARRISBURG, June 11 – The Pennsylvania House Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee voted today to send four bills to the full House for consideration, including two bills to strengthen protections for Pennsylvania consumers, a bill to boost energy production statewide, and legislation introduced by Committee Chair Rob Matzie that would encourage the development of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

 

Matzie was optimistic about the committee’s progress.

 

“Today’s meeting was an important one,” Matzie said. “We moved several bills to protect consumers and other bills that would boost the state’s energy production, including my bill that would jumpstart Pennsylvania’s production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel. I’m looking forward to seeing these bills shepherded through the House.”

 

Matzie said the Pittsburgh International Airport provides a unique opportunity to boost production of SAF – an alternative, bio-based fuel now being used by the aviation industry.

 

“Our airport is unique because there are solar and gas wells right on the property,” Matzie said. “With the necessary resources and the ability to locate production facilities close to the airport, we have an ideal opportunity to meet a growing demand for this fuel, create jobs and reduce our carbon footprint. My bill would ensure we are positioned to take advantage of this opportunity by extending the law to include a tax credit for producers.”

 

The bills reported out of committee include:

 

  • H.B. 1977, which would require businesses to clearly post any surcharges or fees on credit or debit transactions in a visible place.
  • H.B. 2338, which would help expand the state’s energy production by modernizing the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority.
  • HB 2402, which would amend the law to provide a tax credit for producers of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
  • S.B. 824, which would provide free credit monitoring for data breach victims.

Route 2003 Hoenig Road Drilling Begins Wednesday in Beaver County

Pittsburgh, PA – PennDOT District 11 is announcing drilling operations on Hoenig Road (Route 2003) in Economy Borough, Beaver County will begin Wednesday, June 12 weather permitting.

Single-lane alternating traffic will occur on Hoenig Road near the Conway Wallrose Road intersection weekdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Monday, June 17. Crews from Armstrong Drilling conduct drilling operations.

Please use caution if traveling in the area.

Regional Baton competition Saturday at Aliquippa High School

Story by Sandy Giordano – Beaver County Radio. Published June 11, 2024 1:53 P.M.

(Aliquippa, Pa) The Aliquippa High School Marching Band is presenting the Twirling Unlimited Competition Saturday, June 15, 2024 at the high school. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. in the high school gym. Featured at the competition will be high ceiling, novice level, and instate and visitor solo, beginning and advanced show routine.  An interview clinic will be available.

Donations of small bags of chips, pretzels, and cookies, juice boxes and tortilla chips are needed for the concession stand.,
All proceeds from the event will benefit the  QUIP band.