There is so much change going on in the supermarket sector that it is hard to keep up with it. Refrigeration technology is constantly being either tweaked or totally overhauled. Stores are striving for maximum energy efficiency while still providing an attractive shopping experience.

The newest twist could well be electrical outlets in the parking lot for you to plug in and recharge your electric car.

That was one thought from Sheila Millar, one of the speakers at the Food Marketing Institute Energy Conference this past fall. The lawyer was talking about a lot of energy issues facing the industry.

She was noting legislation to encourage use of such vehicles, and the corresponding expectation that providers of parking places for such vehicles will provide a way to re-charge the vehicles. “Grocery stores may be required or may want to provide chargers to fuel electronic vehicles (EVs),” she said. She said more than 4,000 EVs are on the road today and they can travel about 50 miles on a charge. (“Perfect for local errands,” she said.)

I suspect the recharging parking spots will end up similar to the handicapped parking requirements we currently have.

This, of course, raises some interesting situations.

For example, will the environmentally motivated folks with EVs be willing to park and plug some distance from the store entrance in order to get a bit of health-motivated exercise into the trip?

They had better be, because if the electric outlets were close to the store as a motivation for being environmentally correct, it is a sure bet that some insensitive folks with gas-guzzling SUVs will illegally park in those spaces-just as they often do in handicapped spaces.