Edinburgh council to end subsidised electricity for electric vehicle drivers

Prices are half the cost of topping up at some filling stations

The cost of topping up electric vehicles at council-owned charging points is set to rise after it was revealed current prices are half those at some filling stations.

Transport convener Scott Arthur said the council was effectively subsidising electric vehicle drivers and its charging network was running at a loss because of the soaring cost of electricity.

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Now he is proposing a motion at Thursday’s transport and environment committee to end the subsidy and bring in a charging structure that can be rapidly adjusted to reflect changing market pressures.

The council recently rolled out 81 new chargers, serving 141 charging bays across the city, funded by £2.3 million from Transport Scotland, as part of the drive to encourage the take-up of cleaner, low emission transport.

Cllr Arthur said: “Electric vehicles are part of the future but the price at which the council is selling electricity to people with electric cars is lower than you can get electricity for inside your home. I don’t think the council should be selling reduced-price electricity to people, particularly just now when many can't afford to switch their heating on inside their house.”

He said Shell petrol stations had the most expensive prices for EV charging, at double the amount the council sold electricity for. "Somebody said to me they were fed up with the council's EV chargers because there were always queues. I think there would be queues at petrol stations if they were giving away petrol at half price.

"Hopefully we'll change the prices so the service pays for itself. We still want external money to come in to help us invest in the network, but in terms of staff, enforcement and power we expect all that to be self-financing.”

Scott Arthur (left) with Transport Minister Michael Matheson marking the recent roll-out of new chargers in the city.

The council charges 35p per kiloWatt-hour (kWh) for its rapid chargers, 30p per kWh for fast chargers and 25p per kWh for standard chargers. Cllr Scott said some other local authorities charged about the same as Edinburgh, some charged less and others more.

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“We want to bring the price up to reflect the cost of us running the network, so we break even There's lot of things the council could choose to subsidise and I don’t think electric vehicles is one of them.”