Loose Ends 1/10: Riding the current into a better 2020

From left, Andrew Zwicker, Pam Fran and Lyle Rawlings at a Dec. 18 ribbon-cutting event for the new electric vehicle charging system designed and built by Advanced Solar Products in Flemington.PHOTO COURTESY OF PAM HERSH
From left, Andrew Zwicker, Pam Fran and Lyle Rawlings at a Dec. 18 ribbon-cutting event for the new electric vehicle charging system designed and built by Advanced Solar Products in Flemington.PHOTO COURTESY OF PAM HERSH

By Pam Hersh

Climate crisis, Iran/Iraq/North Korea/China/Yemen/Venezuela, mass shootings, stabbings, ethnic hate, massive debt, a dismal ranking for NJ as a business friendly state (Forbes 14th annual “Best States For Business”), short daylight days, bad hair days, and no baseball days were among the elements making up the heavy cloud hovering over my head, as I entered 2020.

Fortunately, I emerged from my cave of depression, when I became recharged by electricity.

Delivering this current of hope to my life were two New Jersey based individuals – Pam Frank, alive and well in Lawrenceville, as the CEO of ChargEVC (The Electric Vehicle Advocacy Coalition of New Jersey), and Thomas Edison, that not so alive New Jersey resident, who had a lot to do with electricity.

I met Frank at a Dec. 18 electric-charging station installation event at Advanced Solar Products (ASP) in Flemington, where she, along with ASP President Lyle Rawlings, gave me the boost I needed to go forward in 2020.

Workplace charging, they said, not only will play a vital role in the transition to electric vehicles, but also in New Jersey’s move to a renewable energy economy – and that is something worth celebrating.

I never met Thomas Edison, but did gain some insight about his electric vehicle commitment thanks to recent “NJ Spotlight” story:


“Within an upscale, gated community in central Essex County stands an icon of the modern age — a garage housing electric vehicles and a charging station, owned by a wealthy proponent of their virtue as a clean mode of transportation.

“They’re not Teslas, or Chevy Volts, or any of the other EVs on the market today. They have names like Detroit Electric and Locomobile. And their owner was Thomas Alva Edison, who’s been dead for nearly 90 years.

“America’s most famous inventor is best known for his work perfecting technologies behind the light bulb, the phonograph and motion pictures. A less familiar part of his biography, though, is that he spent a good deal of his storied life championing electricity as the best power option for a nation about to lovingly embrace the automobile.”

Frank, no blood relative of Thomas Edison, is connected to him through a shared passion for electric vehicles.

“Electric vehicles offer many great benefits, including combatting global warming, improving air quality and therefore our health, offering net savings to all utilities customers, plus generating a wave of investment in our state for the related industries, if we incentivize to plant the east coast flag in New Jersey,” she said.

“Workplace charging is a key component in making EVs accessible to all New Jerseyans…. It gives all those who can’t charge at home another point of access into the EV market,” said Frank in praise of ASP’s leadership in workplace charging and therefore in curbing EV drivers’ fears that they will not able to reach their next stop.

In order to make it easier for other companies to provide workplace charging, ASP plans to publish a step-by-step “how-to” guide to help other companies with the process of planning, designing and installing EV chargers.

Living in the area for the past two decades, Frank said that her commitment to the EV cause has been the result of an overall career goal to make a positive difference in the lives of others through sustainable and renewable energy initiatives.

She became CEO of ChargEVC, when she became vice president of Gabel Associates, an energy-consulting firm specializing in energy initiatives and in managing the electric vehicle coalition. At Gabel Associates, she supports the firm’s efforts related to electric vehicle growth and the development of renewable energy, advanced technologies and energy efficiency projects.

Her interest in the energy efficiency/sustainability field was sparked “rather serendipitously,” Frank said.

In 1992, as part of her job responsibilities at a New Jersey-based Jewish community center, she attended the first earth summit on climate change in which several faith leaders from New Jersey participated.

The earth summit connected her to individuals creating GreenFaith, an innovative not-for-profit that inspires, educates and mobilizes people of diverse religious backgrounds for leadership in the climate and environmental movement.

“That experience was transformative for me – I had been unsure of my professional direction. I was a philosophy major in college, considered med school, started but never finished law school, wanted to do good in the world, but was unsure how to channel that desire. GreenFaith did it for me,” said Frank who, with a master’s degree in public health, has embraced various government and corporate leadership roles in New Jersey’s energy and environmental arena.

The GreenFaith website notes that “because the Earth and all people are sacred and at risk, together our members create communities to transform ourselves, our spiritual institutions and society to protect the planet and create a compassionate, loving and just world.”

Those words, along with more electric cars on the road, just might provide the fuel to get me through what is bound to be a very rough ride in 2020.