Having nowhere to charge the car impacting government’s transition to zero-emissions fleet

Dominic Giannini 6 May 2021 32
Electric car charging

A different kind of filling up. Photo: James Coleman.

A lack of electric vehicle charging stations in the ACT may endanger the public sector’s adoption of a zero-emissions vehicle fleet, with public servants worried they will be unable to find a place to charge the vehicles, the ACT Auditor-General has found.

Auditor-General Michael Harris described the failure to include sufficient charging infrastructure in the new ACT Government buildings in Dickson and Civic as “a missed opportunity”.

Just two electric vehicle chargers were built in each building before they opened and the government is working to address the “immediate and medium-term shortfall” in the availability of parking spaces with chargers, Mr Harris said.

“Progress over related issues, such as what vehicles are entitled to park and charge in these two new buildings and the associated costings and assessments of different installation scenarios, has led to insufficient progress being made to reach a timely decision.”

There are currently plans to install 80 charging stations across Civic and 35 stations across Dickson.

The government allocated around $500,000 to install 50 electric vehicle charging stations in 2018, and the Sustainable Household Scheme was expanded in February this year to include home charging infrastructure.

Mr Harris also found the availability of some car models, the choice between battery and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, preferred parking locations and patterns of use have also made the transition to a zero-emissions fleet more complex.


READ ALSO: Australia’s first public hydrogen refuelling station opens in Canberra


The complications with the rollout have led to a larger percentage of lease extensions than usual, as opposed to new leases and a larger percentage of plug-in hybrids being leased instead of battery electric vehicles.

Mr Harris said the emerging vehicle leasing patterns warranted a closer examination and the government’s transition should be reviewed.

The ACT Government committed to only leasing zero-emissions vehicles from 1 July 2020. The government also committed to procuring zero-emission buses from this year and to only purchase zero-emissions buses from 2025.

The government will purchase 90 new electric buses over the next three years as it works to reduce emissions from the transport sector, which is expected to account for over 60 per cent of ACT emissions from 2020.

It plans to transition its entire bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2040.

The 611-strong government passenger fleet included 139 zero-emissions vehicles at the end of March.

While ACT Government agencies have, for the most part, effectively implemented the Government’s zero-emissions vehicle commitments, the three teams working on the policy’s implementation “did not develop a shared understanding and commitment”, the report said.

This resulted in amendments in the Parking and Vehicle Access code being given a lower priority by the Strategic Planning and Territory Planning teams than the Climate Change Policy team.

The use of transit lanes by zero-emission vehicles was also given a lower priority by Roads ACT than the Climate Change Policy team, which resulted in no signage or public announcements for more than 12-months after legislation was amended.

“As a result, the full benefits envisaged by the action have not been realised in a timely way,” the report said.

“Early implementation of this activity is particularly important given this aspect of the legislation terminates in 2023.”

The ACT Government has committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2045 and at least a 33 per cent reduction in emissions from government operations by 2025 compared to 2020 levels.


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24 Responses to Having nowhere to charge the car impacting government’s transition to zero-emissions fleet
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Mat Barber Mat Barber 10:45 am 08 May 21

If the ACT government is serious they should install chargers in all their office building carparks for their staff and fleet cars to use, or ramp up the planned install of 50 chargers in all group/town centres if they want people to take up the technology. Having 1 single fast charger in the city isn't good enough.

Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 4:24 pm 07 May 21

How will the be emissions free when the electricity used to charge them with comes from the NSW grid and it’s mostly coal generated

    Ashley Latimer Ashley Latimer 4:37 pm 07 May 21

    Jorge Gatica Until coal is completely phased out, nothing is ever going to be truly emissions-free. However having vehicles that don't spew out carbon monoxide is a pretty good start to meeting that end don't you think?

    Guy Noble Guy Noble 5:31 pm 07 May 21

    Ashley Latimer some can see we have to start somewhere, some only see the negatives and not the long term

    Kieran Angus Kieran Angus 6:43 pm 07 May 21

    Jorge Gatica ACT pays for enough renewable energy to be fed into the grid to cover our power usage...

    Woody Brenden Woody Brenden 6:46 pm 07 May 21

    Kieran Angus Yep. If I own an electric car in Canberra and charge it here majority of the time then Jorges argument doesn't hold up

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 6:55 pm 07 May 21

    Kieran Angus can you show me in this picture where Canberra’s renewable electricity is coming from??

    Woody Brenden Woody Brenden 7:08 pm 07 May 21

    Jorge Gatica ACT isn't listed in the picture? There's information about ACT's 100% renewable target straight from the source here if you're interested though: https://www.environment.act.gov.au/energy/cleaner-energy/renewable-energy-target-legislation-reporting

    My understanding is that the 2020 target was met?

    Jamie Barlow Jamie Barlow 8:13 pm 07 May 21

    Ashley Latimer It's just replacing one fossil fuel for another, and lucky us, we get to pay a massive additional cost in creating all this new infrastructure too. I still haven't seen a good argument that the manufacture of the required network of charging stations is going to be an environmental positive. Charging stations are going to be made of plastics and metals, both requiring plenty of non-green energy to produce. The energy you then charge the car with doesn't come from nowhere. This is the green dream? Although for some reason people seem to think the manufacture and then quickly landfilling of giant, wildlife destroying wind turbines is environmentally sound too.

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 8:16 pm 07 May 21

    Kieran Angus regardless of what ACT pay we are still getting the mostly black coal generated electricity into our homes

    Kieran Angus Kieran Angus 8:17 pm 07 May 21

    Jorge Gatica it doesn't matter.

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 8:22 pm 07 May 21

    Kieran Angus of course it matters, it’s all a ACT greens fantasy, the only state that can almost call them selves renewable is Tasmania as they run most on hydro and wind power but they still use a bit of gas

    Kieran Angus Kieran Angus 8:23 pm 07 May 21

    Jorge Gatica you really don't understand how the grid works do you...

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 9:03 pm 07 May 21

    Kieran Angus I don’t think you do

    Mitch McClintock Mitch McClintock 9:41 pm 07 May 21

    Jamie Barlow that’s the kind of thinking that will melt that glacier in your profile picture. This explains your issue well: https://youtu.be/mk-LnUYEXuM

Woody Brenden Woody Brenden 3:54 pm 07 May 21

I'll be an electric car owner in the coming weeks. Pretty confident I'll have enough options for charging after looking into places in my area. My only concern is that people in ICE vehicles tend to block access to charging stations when I've checked them out in person.

    Scotty Zsigs Taylor Scotty Zsigs Taylor 3:59 pm 07 May 21

    Woody Brenden that's great news, what are you getting?

    John Hunter John Hunter 5:13 pm 07 May 21

    Woody Brenden it makes a certain type of person feel tough when they block charging stations.

    Julie Murphy Julie Murphy 6:09 pm 07 May 21

    Woody Brenden are you getting rid of your van?

Guy Noble Guy Noble 3:38 pm 07 May 21

surely you can live in tuggers and work in civic and only need to charge at home yeah? Electric car free parking might be a better idea to start the ball rolling

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 5:00 pm 07 May 21

    Guy Noble we don’t have to subsidise peoples cars parking regardless of what type of car

    Jorge Gatica Jorge Gatica 6:18 pm 07 May 21

    Guy Noble LMFAO myself, there’s nothing anyone has to do, if you want an electric car go ahead and buy one, they’re out there in the market

    Mitch McClintock Mitch McClintock 9:34 pm 07 May 21

    Jorge Gatica they are pretty expensive. Out of reach for a lot of people.

Adele Craven Adele Craven 3:02 pm 07 May 21

Riot ACT. Please do a story on the existing electric cars in the ACT Govt fleet, what chargers are currently available and what people think of them, from drivers to managers. Maybe an update on the 51 vehicles is the REVS trial too

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