Edinburgh Council's pricing revealed for electric vehicle chargers amid connection fee criticism

COUNCILLORS have been accused of discouraging poorer households from buying an electric vehicle after ignoring advice from a trade body and pressing ahead with introducing connection charges.

Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 1:01 pm
Updated Tuesday, 15th October 2019, 2:02 pm
Electric vehicle charging points are being rolled out across Edinburgh, Picture: TSPL

In March, Edinburgh Council approved the first phase of a total of 211 electric chargers to be provided across the Capital – with 66 fast and rapid chargers being set-up in the first phase.

Councillors have now agreed how much users will have to pay to use the new infrastructure – both paying a connection fee and a per kWh charge. All chargers will come with a 20 pence charge per kWh of electricity used – but the slow chargers, to be provided at park and ride sites, will include a £2 connection fee, fast chargers will carry a 30 pence connection fee and rapid chargers will cost users a £1 fee.

Green councillors called for the proposed charging regime to be put on hold – but the authority’s finance and resources convener, Cllr Alasdair Rankin, refused the request. Reviews will take place every six months.

The framework has been agreed despite the Electric Vehicle Association of Scotland (EVAS) panning the proposals, labelling them “flawed” and calling for them to be reviewed. EVAS members have unanimously rejected the connection fee.

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Green Cllr Chas Booth said: “Their argument is that having a connection fee and setting it at a comparatively high rate may incentivise charger hogging. If the fee is for a connection, that disincentives people to move off that charger and allow more people to use it.

“It also potentially disadvantages those with smaller cars with smaller batteries. For example, someone with a smaller battery with a 20kwh capacity may need to charge three times a week – which with a connection fee, their total charges could be £15 – whereas a larger vehicle that only needs one charge a week could actually have a lower charge.

“Are we not putting a perverse incentive for people to have larger vehicles, which are also heavier and therefore bad for our roads? Is there not a social justice issue here because the larger vehicles are obviously a lot more expensive and the smaller ones are move accessible?”

The council’s sustainable development manager, Janice Pauwels, told councillors that “free charging can no longer be sustained”.

She said: “We know they (EVAS) are not in favour of connection fees at all and would rather see a flat rate. The three charges that we have proposed were to have affordability for users but also to have a business case that is viable. They were also asked to look at a potential business case where revenue could be generated for the council.

“If we didn’t have the connection fee, the business case doesn’t stack up – it’s financially not viable. I’m not convinced that EVAS are considering all the costs in their considerations.”

Council officials say that even with the new charges, the costs for electric vehicle charging will “be far cheaper” than petrol or diesel fuel at around nine to 12 pence per mile compared to around 15 to 16 pence per mile.

Cllr Rankin rejected a call from Cllr Booth for the charging regime to be put on hold, despite Ms Pauwels telling councillors “you could defer the tariffs”.

The convener said: “We do have these six monthly reviews. If does seem to me that for all these issues raised, that’s something that can be addressed in light of six months of experience of having rolled this out and seeing how it actually operates.

“My own view is that we let the system run and we can make an evidence-based decision after six months.”

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