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Palo Alto Passes Progressive Residential EV Charging Legislation

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New homeowners in Palo Alto, CA, now have one less expense to worry about if they own or plan to buy an electric vehicle (EV) 

Palo Alto City Council passed a progressive ordinance in late September requiring builders to pre-wire new homes so they are fit for EV charging. The building code change, which passed unanimously, was spurred by city officials who learned about a resident who installed a charger in front of his home for his neighbors to use.

"The thing that caught me is how simple and easy and fairly inexpensive it is to rough-in the wiring," Vice Mayor Nancy Shepherd said, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Mayor Greg Scharff added that it usually costs $200 to install the circuitry at a new home. That's four times less than charger installation costs at an existing home.

"They really are starting to catch on and get some market penetration," council member Marc Berman said. "It is important that we create the infrastructure necessary to allow that to happen. In Palo Alto, of all places, we should absolutely do that."

Palo Alto is home to Tesla Motors' headquarters. City council also passed a multi-layered motion by the mayor, directing staff to explore more recommendations, including ensuring that all new and existing hotels in the city have chargers.

State government is also passing precedent-setting legislation regarding EV infrastructure.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a pair of bills on Sept. 28 that offer greater access to EV chargers. Assembly Bill 1092 requires EV charger wiring for the builders of new commercial and multi-family sites, beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Previous laws only prevented landlords and home owners associations from blocking charger installation.

Brown also signed California Senate Bill 454, allowing EV drivers to charge at any station, even those where they do not have a membership arrangement with the owner. Station owners must also disclose fees for nonmembers. The state would adopt billing standards for public charging by 2016, if they haven't been adopted at the national level.

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A volcano erupts on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island on Dec. 9, 2019. Michael Schade / Twitter

A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.

"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."

The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.

Michael Schade / Twitter

At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.

The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.

Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.

"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."

Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.

Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.

"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.

"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."

The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.

Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.

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