21 November 2023

Parliament House to become home to one of the largest public EV charging facilities in the ACT

| James Coleman
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EV chargers at Parliament House

EV chargers at Parliament House. Photo: ActewAGL.

Federal ministers will have somewhere to charge their EVs in record time now – and so can you.

Ten EV chargers have been installed in the visitors’ car park at Parliament House – the beginning of what will become one of the largest public charging facilities in the ACT.

Local energy provider ActewAGL teamed up with EVSE Australia and Shepherd Electrical to plug in the fast chargers capable of providing up to 120 kilometres of range per hour.

Another 48 chargers will be located within the Senate, House of Representatives and Ministerial car parks and are due for completion in 2024.

READ ALSO The $100 question: Would you get the cheapest EV in Australia over the second cheapest?

In 2022, Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen told the Energy Insiders podcast (via The Driven) that he and other EV-driving MPs and Senators have been using power points in the car park to “trickle charge” their vehicles.

“At the moment, I drive my EV from Sydney to Canberra, which is great,” he said.

“But I trickle charge in the Parliament House car park and it is very slow, and it’s fine if I’m just jotting around Canberra for a couple of days.”

A year later, Mr Bowen was told by Parliament House staff that work was “well advanced” on the new charging facilities.

At the official opening last week, House of Representatives speaker Milton Dick said it was important Parliament House “meet the evolving needs” of the 800,000 visitors it welcomes every year.

EV charging station in underground car park

A new public EV charging station at the Amaroo shopping centre. Photo: ActewAGL.

Not only will the new chargers cater to a growing number of EV owners among ministers and visitors, the car parks are also in readiness for the transition of the COMCAR fleet from internal-combustion-powered vehicles to EVs, starting with the BMW iX this year.

Spurred on by the ACT Government’s aim to build 180 public chargers by 2025, ActewAGL has installed more than 100 across the ACT and surrounding region, and they’re contracted to install a further 100 over the next 12 months.

One of these includes the fastest EV charger for all EVs, a 110 kW “super fast charger” at John McGrath KIA in Phillip.

“ActewAGL is … working towards the community goal of one in four households having an EV by 2030,” ActewAGL Retail general manager Rachael Turner said.

“Our continued commitment to expanding public charging infrastructure is designed to build confidence in the community that an EV is a logical and convenient choice for their next vehicle.”

READ ALSO ‘Convenient and cheaper’ hybrids still dominating Canberra’s EV market

The chargers at Parliament House come in Ocular 7 kW and 22 kW forms and are accessible through the Exploren app.

ActewAGL said the “complex design” involved a revamp of the building’s electrical infrastructure, including the installation of new distribution boards, cable trays, and communication and load control systems.

They can deliver the same output – no matter how many EVs are plugged in along the line – but can also be “dialled down if required to factor in the broader energy usage of buildings”.

Up to this point, a raft of six DC chargers in the car park at the Royal Australian Mint in Deakin has laid claim to the largest fast-charging station in the ACT. These were officially opened in August by ACT Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction Shane Rattenbury.

Royal Australian Mint CEO Leigh Gordon reckons EV chargers attract visitors like “swimming pools for country motels”. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Royal Australian Mint CEO Leigh Gordon likened EV chargers to “swimming pools for country motels” as an added visitor attraction.

“Being the first to have a bank of fast chargers in our car park will give tourists another reason to visit and enjoy all the Mint has to offer,” he said.

“It is also another way for the Mint to demonstrate its commitment to reduce our environmental impact, while promoting sustainable tourism.”

To use the EV chargers at Parliament House, users have to register through the Exploren app first. The cost is $0.43 per kWh. Other ActewAGL chargers across Canberra require the Evie app, with a charging cost of 50 cents per kWh for the Rapid Chargers and 40 cents per kWh for the Fast Chargers.

Paid parking fees also apply at Parliament House between 6 am and 5:30 pm, ranging from $7 for one to two hours to $21 for five or more hours.

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This is investment I absolutely support. Although, it would be great to know how many of these charging stations will be full compliant with the DDA and accessible for drivers with disability? This seems a significant oversight in the procurement, design and installation of this new infrastructure. #inclusivecity #accessibility

So previously they were stealing power from the house, are they going to pay for it this time? Did they declare it as a fringe benefit.

Storing a charge and using it for travel is a pointless waste of time. You’d eliminate millions of hours of on road combustion travel with a high speed rail between the major cities.

Spending all this money on EV’s is like trying to make mini electrics trains for everyone.

Capital Retro6:56 am 23 Nov 23

Meanwhile, the government confirms that only 35% of electricity generated in Australia is “renewable” so they are now determined to not only destroy the environment with solar and wind factories but they will bankrupt us along the way.


So apparently it’s acceptable to have EV chargers under Parliament House but running light rail is a massive security risk – give me a break!

Tom Worthington9:39 am 21 Nov 23

The public car-park under the forecourt at Parliament House is one large space, which slopes up to the building. Has a study been done into the effect of an EV car fire in this car park?

More expensive boondoggles for the posturing bourgeois classes. The wealthy woke professional-managerial classes struggle to cognitively reconcile their commitment to decolonizing everything (meaning wealthy western bourgeois classes cease to have influence over the world) with their firm belief that if they “take the lead” on issues such as this — on their presumption they are the most enlightened of the world’s people –everyone else will follow, since naturally they’re at the centre of world history.

When you add the $7 parking fee, it’s cheaper to charge elsewhere

Terrence O\'Brien2:19 pm 20 Nov 23

So some millions spent in the infrastructure upgrade to provide coal-fired power to subsidised cars that are practically inferior to the existing vehicle stock and refuelling infrastructure.
I wonder where all the productivity growth and real per capita income growth has gone? And how much have we changed the world’s climate?
Still, the Minister will be able to charge his car faster, and that’s the main thing.

No coal fired power in the ACT.

OpenYourMind5:37 pm 20 Nov 23

Maybe you haven’t been paying attention, but more and more of Australia’s power is renewable. We’re hitting up to 71% of all power being renewable during the day. NSW alone, can crank along the equivalent of 4 nuclear plants just from people’s rooftop solar. During the night, wind takes over, but our renewables drop back to 20-30%. The percentage renewable is rapidly increasing each year. Love it!

Terrence O\'Brien6:12 pm 20 Nov 23

What do you think is jiggling the electrons on a still night? Look at the physics of the national grid, not the financial engineering of contracts for difference. Canberra is not getting electrons sent from a windmill in SA.

Capital Retro9:12 pm 20 Nov 23

And the cost of electricity increases commensurately. Hate it.

* No coal fired power hosted in the ACT. When it counts, ACT uses coal fired power from the national energy market. The ACT only generates about five per cent of the electricity its residents actually use.
Perhaps read beyond the convenient leftist propaganda and you’ll find something closer to reality. Here’s a source – SBS…hardly a right wing biased haven.

Umm, that article is almost 4 years old. A lot has changed even since then…

Firstly, given that all the solar farms were completed by 2017, nothing has changed. But instead of pretending that the passage of time equates to change, can you please provide evidence of what exactly has changed?

Is it just trickle charging or will they have high speed fast charging?

The article says that they are 7kw or 20kw per hour. Neither of these are considered fast chargers.

As Leo implys, they are more appropriate for longer plug-ins. I suppose they would top up an EV enough after a few hours, but then as Yuno says you need to factor in the parking fee also so they’re clearly only intended for while you’re visiting, and not as a charging destination.

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