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Fees may be introduced at Highland Council's public electric vehicle charge points

By Philip Murray

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A person charging an electric vehicle.
A person charging an electric vehicle.

ELECTRIC vehicle charge points owned by Highland Council will no longer be free to use, if councillors approve plans to introduce tariffs.

Highland Council’s economy and infrastructure will be asked to approve plans to introduce the fees when they meet tomorrow (Wednesday).

And, if the measures are approved on Wednesday, then motorists look set to be charged between 20p and 30p for every kilowatt hour of energy used – depending on the type of charger.

Users will be charged a minimum of £1 per charge, regardless of whether they drew that much power from the unit.

And those using the very fastest charge points – so-called “rapid” chargers – will also face £1 per minute overstay fees should they stay beyond 45 minutes and a subsequent 15 minute “grace period”.

The council insists the new fees are needed to help it meet the growing costs of the electricity – with the number of “sessions” at its various charge points rising from 12,868 to 22,399 in the space of just two years.

This meant that, in 2020 alone, the cost of the council’s electricity bill for the charge points was more than £50,000.

And it worries that this could double by the end of 2021 as more and more motorists embrace electric vehicles.

“In the current financial climate, this is a revenue burden the council can little afford to bear,” a report that will go before councillors has warned.

The report added: “Currently, no tariff applies for using Highland Council EV charge points. Therefore, EV users can charge their electric vehicles for free.

“The number of EVs on the roads has doubled in the last year, so the risk in electricity supply will be upwards of those numbers without a tariff in place.

“Providing free charging on the publicly accessible network was a condition of previous grant funding from Transport Scotland to encourage the uptake of EVs in order to support carbon reduction targets and the wider climate change agenda.

“This is no longer the case and, as future funding is uncertain and expected to decrease or cease altogether, the introduction of tariffs is endorsed by Transport Scotland in order to transition local authorities to a more sustainable operational model.”

Under the new charging system, the council is proposing that once electricity and other costs are covered, any left over funds raised will be reinvested back into its electricity charge point network’s infrastructure.

Motorists who opt for a ‘rapid’ charger will pay 30p for every kWh used, while those using ‘slow’, ‘standard’ or ‘fast’ chargers – ones with a charge rate of 22kW or less – will pay the 20p rate.

The report added that the council plans to refer to the 'rapid' charge points as "journey chargers", and the various slower ones as "destination chargers", in order to make the system and its fees easier for the public to understand.

Related news: Electric car charging woes spark call for Highland Council to install more stations in Inverness

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