Tuesday 20 August 2019

Q&A: Fees on the way - and over-stay penalties will halt 'hogging'

 

Powering up: Plans are in place to modernise the network and dissuade drivers from hogging chargers. Stock picture
Powering up: Plans are in place to modernise the network and dissuade drivers from hogging chargers. Stock picture
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

The electric era is dawning as the Government ramps up efforts to dramatically increase our use of zero-emissions vehicles over the next decade. The Irish Independent asked ESB Ecars about its plans.

Q What is the current position and timeframe on charging for public charging?

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We are continuing to liaise with all stakeholders, including EV owners, on the introduction of pricing plans and we expect to announce these plans later in the year.

Based on responses from our customer feedback, we are considering a pay-as-you-go rate based on the energy used rather than time spent at a charger. We are also hoping to offer an alternative option of a subscription-based model where the customer can pay a small monthly fee and get a reduced kWh rate.

 

Q What is current state of upgrade of the charging points around the country?

Late last year, ESB Ecars committed to replacing some existing chargers in advance of the introduction of fees and as part of our commitment to investing in and developing the EV charging network nationwide.

We have undertaken a programme of replacing older fast charging models with new multi-standard fast chargers.

Eight fast-charge points at Circle K-owned service stations have been upgraded with multi-standard fast chargers and a further nine fast charge points have been upgraded.

The fast charger at Circle K in Clonshaugh, Dublin, has been replaced and a new fast charger has been installed at the Gorey Service Station, M11.

As our infrastructure is almost 10 years old, a significant upgrade plan for the AC charge point network will begin later in the year with the replacement of a large portion of Standard AC chargers which are in need of improvement.

 

Q What are the technological obstacles being experienced and how are they being addressed?

The technology used in the original pilot project for ESB Ecars is now almost 10 years old with sourcing essential components posing difficulties. This is particularly the case for the AC charge point network.

To address this we are commencing a significant upgrade plan with the replacement of a large proportion of these chargers. We are confident this will commence in 2020.

 

Q What is the situation with the superhubs at strategic locations?

We are assessing suitable sites on motorways and national road networks, which will see more than 50 high-power charging hubs built on motorway, national road sites and some urban locations.

These hubs will be able to charge between two and eight vehicles simultaneously and are capable of providing up to 100km of electric driving range in as little as six minutes.

 

Q Where is most demand for charging coming from?

The largest concentration of usage is in urban and commuter belts with a significant increase on inter-urban routes. For commercial sensitivity reasons, we cannot comment on specific site activity.

 

Q What sort of feedback are you getting?

The main source of dissatisfaction is when chargers aren't available or in high demand. A key finding from our feedback to date has been that people want to prevent EV drivers from "hogging" chargers.

In a recent ESB Ecars EV driver survey, 90pc supported the introduction of an over-stay fee. We have taken this on board and are looking at the possibility of introducing an over-stay fee to ensure that customers don't leave their car plugged in for long periods of time, delaying the next driver.

Irish Independent

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