Rising costs spark end of free Midlothian Council electric vehicle charging points

Midlothian Council is to stop providing free electricity at its electric vehicle charging points, but will install more points as it attempts to become carbon neutral by 2030.

By Kevin Quinn
Monday, 12th October 2020, 3:25 pm
Midlothian Council area has 37 chargers per 100,000 population, the fourteenth highest across all 32 Scottish local authorities.

With the number of electric vehicles using the chargers increasing and the costs of electricity going up, it is no longer sustainable for the council not to introduce a reasonable charge for the service.

At the full council meeting last week, councillors agreed rapid chargers (over 43kW) will now cost 30p per kWh (kilowatt-hour) while fast and slow chargers will cost 16p per kWh (22kW and lower). There will be an overstay charge of £1 per minute after 60 minutes of charge for rapid chargers only and a minimum cost of £1 per session will be waived if the session is interrupted.

Midlothian Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for transport, Councillor John Hackett (Lab) said: “The council has been providing free electricity for electric vehicles for a number of years now. The cost of this has been rapidly increasing every year, especially at our most popular rapid chargers at Sheriffhall Park and Ride.

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“Like numerous other councils across Scotland, we realise it’s no longer sustainable for us to continue to do so and we need to start to introduce reasonable tariffs.

“Many local businesses such as McDonald’s and the Edinburgh Technopole already do so.”

The most popular EV charger site hosted by Midlothian Council is Sheriffhall Park & Ride. It has two rapid (50kW) chargers (with an additional two to be installed this autumn 2020 and two fast (22kW) chargers. The average kWh drawn per month has almost doubled from 2018/19 (6,274 kWh) to 2019/20 (11,470 kWh).

At Sheriffhall Park & Ride, the associated average cost per month for the points increased from £822 in 2018/19 to £1,782 in 2019/20, up 125 per cent in two financial years.

Councillors also heard the costs of electricity are rising, the average charge up from 13p in 2018/19 to 16p in 2019/20.

Cllr Hackett added: “We welcome the increased use of electric vehicles, which will help us achieve our aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, as outlined in our recently agreed Climate Change Strategy.

“With electric vehicles becoming more popular, we will be making sure more charging points are available by, among other measures, taking advantage of all government grants available and including electric vehicle charging points in housing development plans.”