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.
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.
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.”
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 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.