8 September 2021

What is holding back EV charging stations in Canberra?

| James Coleman
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Electric vehicles at charging station

ACT is home to the highest number of electric vehicles per capita in Australia. Photo: File.

There have been plenty of promises and a lot of money thrown around, but electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in the ACT still remain few and far between.

Since 2018, the ACT Government has committed more than $500,000 to getting public charging stations up and running, but the PlugShare app reveals there are currently only 31 in the ACT, two of which are undergoing repairs.

In May 2021, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced that 50 charging stations would be rolled out across Canberra within 12 months, expecting that number to climb into the hundreds during the next five years.

“The planning code is also in the process of being amended to require EV charging points in new multi-apartment builds,” he said.

“We could ultimately seek to mandate that every petrol station has EV charging points.”

The ACT might only account for four per cent of the nation’s EVs, but we have the highest number of EVs per capita in Australia. The number of EVs currently registered passed the 1000 mark in July thanks to a Tesla Model 3.

The numbers work out at approximately 32 EVs to one charger.

Owners standing next to electric vehicles

The first and 1000th registered electric vehicles in the ACT, and their proud owners. Photo: ACT Government.

In June 2021, ActewAGL partnered with national EV charging network provider Evie Networks to drive “a larger, more reliable and accessible charging experience for the ACT”.

Evie Networks CEO Chris Mills said that rolling out publicly available charging stations is a lengthy process involving many steps and red tape.

“As to why there aren’t more publicly available chargers in operation, that is typically explained by the low number of EVs on the road,” he said.

Mr Mills said Evie is taking a “build it and they will come” strategy and hopes to remove range anxiety by building a network of chargers in advance of demand.

READ ALSO Network deal to boost number of EV fast chargers across the ACT

Managing director of Detlev’s Electrical Services, Grae Munro, says that with the ever-increasing range in new EVs, combined with dropping costs, the tipping point is fast approaching where EV costs will align with those powered by the traditional internal combustion engine.

He said feedback from industry experts and customers includes the drawbacks of limited accessibility to charging stations in public places, shopping centres and office buildings; and limited understanding of charging times and associated costs.

“With the products already available, there is a full range of both smart and simplified charging options for new and existing residential and commercial buildings,” said Mr Munro.

“A simple switchboard upgrade or extra circuit may be all it takes to install an EV charger in your home.”

Model 3 Tesla electric vehicle

Teslas account for more than 400 of all EVs in the ACT. Photo: James Coleman.

The ACT currently uses about 2,900,000 megawatt hours of electricity in our homes and workplaces each year. Estimates suggest we will consume nearly double that when EVs are the main form of transport.

If it is a matter of overloading the grid, Mr Munro said there are things individual households can do to help ease the load.

“We are working with some really cool emerging EV technology,” he said. “Automation allows us to provide our customers with the choice of where they draw their energy from – whether that be solar, battery or generator – and at the same time reducing their cost.”

Other load management systems aim to lessen the effects of a power outage, or avoid charging during times of peak demand.

The ACT Government is also trialling ‘Vehicle 2 Grid’ systems that enable power to be fed both into and out of an EV’s battery pack.

Watch this space.

Contact Detlev’s Electrical Services for more information on EV charging options for your home or business.

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Capital Retro6:19 pm 16 Sep 21

The headline in the first link it totally misleading. The proposed legislation says it will be a requirement for every new home to have a charge point, where there is an associated car parking space.

This could be an external household 240V power point – I have them at the front and rear of my house.

But that story came from England where they import kiln dried wood chips from the USA and burn them in old coal fired power stations to produce UN endorsed “renewable electricity” so they excel in virtue signaling.

Capital Retro11:32 am 15 Sep 21

A battery is a “fuel pump” too and EVs have been around at least 20 years but still have problems with getting their “fuel pumps” right.

Meanwhile, there is nothing like the reliability of an ICE powered vehicle.

What is the value of EV and solar batteries we are now importing? Let’s suggest the battery in a new EV costs $16K and lasts 8 years – that’s the equivalent of $2k’s worth of petrol a year for an ICE powered vehicle which is about average consumption and a new motor is not required at the end of 8 years.

Not only is the battery science incomplete but the economics for an EV don’t stack up either.

Capital Retro,
We’ve been through this.

An ICE vehicle has significantly more mechanical equipment than an EV.

So whilst an EV might need its batteries replaced, the maintenance activities required to keep that ICE vehicle “reliable” is much, much higher. Fluids, wires, , belts, spark plugs etc.

Hardly surprising that you’d forget all those extra costs though, economics is clearly not a strong suit for you.

Capital Retro4:59 pm 15 Sep 21

Economics to you is probably all theory (like climate change) so at the end of the day so let’s focus on facts solely and to that end I have an ICE powered vehicle that has travelled 320K kilometers over 20 years and the only replaced items in the engine (apart from consumables) are a new set of spark plugs. Other items that have been replaced on the vehicle have been generally necessitated through wear and tear.

I read somewhere that a headlight replacement on a Tesla is several thousand dollars so the contingent repair/replacement cost liability in having one of these EVs is substantial without factoring in the massive cost and disposing of several batteries that would be required over 20 years.

No doubt you will try and tell me I have only told half the story so over to you.

Capital Retro,
Thank you for admitting that you have had to replace things on your ICE vehicle due to wear and tear along with the significant amount of consumables that also would have gone into maintaining your vehicle.

Most of which are not required on an EV.

Although if you actually wanted to compare a modern day Tesla to a comparable ICE vehicle, it wouldn’t be your car, it would be a brand new high performance vehicle.

If you want to argue that cars built 20 years ago were far simpler, had much lower performance, lower safety and less accessories I would agree with you.

But that doesn’t really reflect a comparison in 2021.

Horses were also far simpler than cars when the ICE vehicle was invented.

Capital Retro9:28 pm 15 Sep 21

Wow! Teslas don’t wear away tyres and wiper blades? No wonder everyone is after one.

By the way, who needs a high performance vehicle in a city like Canberra that will soon be 40 kph everywhere?

Capital Retro,
No they don’t have timing belts, spark plugs, wiring or consumables etc. like your ICE vehicle.

Or are you saying you have some sort of mythical car that runs on hope and dreams?

As for high performance vehicles, I don’t own one so don’t really care. If you want a fair comparison though perhaps you should ask those who do?

Capital Retro9:12 am 16 Sep 21

But they do have batteries which are very expensive to replace/dispose of or did you conveniently forget that?

My car is real and already has the runs on the board. Rather than a myth, it’s a legend.

It’s the EV’s that are running on hopes and dreams – hopes that the battery won’t go flat and dreams that the taxpayers will build their owners a recharger on every corner.

They have batteries which are constantly coming down in price and are recyclable.

Almost everything else is more expensive to operate and maintain on an ICE vehicle.

Making EVs more economic every year compared to ICE vehicles, which is why their proliferation in the market is increasing rapidly.

And it’s pretty ironic when you talk about needing rechargers built, considering the amount of petrol stations that exist for that exact purpose for ICE vehicles.

They must have magically appeared by themselves too.

Capital Retro5:40 pm 17 Sep 21

Can you nominate one petrol/service station that was subsidised by the taxpayer?

Yes I can.

All of them.

Capital Retro4:55 pm 29 Sep 21

I only want details of one so please let everyone know exactly where it is what the subsidies were.

Get Zed on to another EV whinge campaign. Every time the Canberra Libs whinge about EVs their sales seem to jump.

Capital Retro5:19 pm 14 Sep 21

This new concept could obviate the need for more EV charging stations and at the same time solve Canberra’s housing problems:


A friend seriously looked into setting up a EV charging site in the Light Industrial part of Phillip not far from car yards. The commercial rates were going to be $90,000 a year for less than 3,000sqm of space. It was not going to be profitable business with those kind of tax levels.

He ended up with the space and location that he needed in Sydney for a third of the annual commercial rates as Canberra. He couldn’t believe the Phillip Industrial zone paid rates like an inner city multi story business office. I suddenly realised why the Phillip business owners have been crying foul about rates over the last few years.

“I suddenly realised why the Phillip business owners have been crying foul about rates”.

Because their land is worth millions and millions of dollars?

The land might be worth millions but the business the people run from that land isn’t necessarily worth millions.

This will be the interesting transition from locations like Phillip that were originally cheap locations and setup to support plumbers, upholstery, picture framers, sewing shops etc to locations that are suddenly operating on higher per square meter land value and taxed accordingly.

Chewy I know you’re a purist for valuing and taxing land at its highest and best use value, (and I get the theory) but the ‘economic’ focused model the ACT Government use for annual rates and taxes obviously doesn’t factor in the ‘social or environmental’ value of the land. There’s probably non financial value to Canberrans in having an EV charging station, a mental support centre or a repair shop for home appliances etc in Phillip.

The ACT Government skirts around this issue by inconsistently giving social and environmental grants to select businesses and organisations that operate from high value and such as in Civic.

Capital Retro5:26 pm 14 Sep 21

You caught him out – he was only telling half the story.

“The land might be worth millions but the business the people run from that land isn’t necessarily worth millions”

Yes, it’s almost like the land might be better used for other forms of commercial pursuits than what the current businesses are doing.

Change is often difficult in these types of situations but luckily the landholders have made huge windfall gains that should lessen their pain.

Although I will actually partially agree with you that the current ACT Planning arrangements does make it harder for some of these businesses to utilise their land to the full extent. Hopefully greater flexibility along with greater certainty is provided in future planning changes.

Wow Chewy. some common ground between us on an aspect of land and urban planning. We need to declare a public holiday to celebrate. 😉

Capital Retro7:08 pm 16 Sep 21

When is the wedding?

Capital Retro9:26 am 13 Sep 21

Ben Garden, GM may not go 100% EV if they can’t eliminate all the after sales problems which are costing them billions of dollars.


While there is a clear issue with the batteries, the most significant issue of all has nothing to do with batteries at all

“It wasn’t really a problem last week since GM had already stopped production due to the chip shortage.”

And the chip shortage impacts on cars of all types, not just EVs.

Capital Retro4:45 pm 13 Sep 21

There have been at least 3 recalls on GM’s EVs. Why defend the indefensible?

Just because you specialise in telling half the story CR, others don’t.

The key factor in the decision to stop product is the chip shortage, not the issues with the batteries. I never said that wasn’t a factor either – but paint the whole story, not a convenient slither of it please.

Capital Retro10:22 pm 12 Sep 21

No one seems to care about the question outlined in the headline of this article and as the pro EV comments seem to be dominated by the usual people it is reasonable to conclude there is no lack of EV charging stations at all which is great news for ratepayers.

It’s funny how people have been wooed into thinking that EV is better for the environment, because they don’t see the transmissions they think there are no transmissions.

It would be easier to take nay sayers seriously of they came from some sort of position of strength. Such as having sufficient vocabulary to use the correct word. Emissions.

Jack – I sense the beginnings of a new conspiracy theory. EVs don’t have emissions, they have transmissions…. of Covid. All makes sense now 😛

Capital Retro7:17 am 14 Sep 21

The “transmission” reference could apply to the EMR generated within an EV being transferred to driver and passengers.

Before you all tell me to put my tin hat on, consider this:

With batteries and power cables in EVs and hybrids often located close to the driver and passengers, some direct exposure to electromagnetic fields is inevitable. Also, from the electronic devices of the driver and passengers, all this is combined and added to the artificial emissions that arrive from the outside of the vehicle in the area where the vehicle roams, it becomes a substantial amount of fields inside the vehicle, still being worse when this exposure is extremely prolonged, as happens with drivers who spend hours a day behind the wheel.

Avoid all electricity and live in a cave then. Newsflash – light is also an EM wave, so avoid the sun too.

Capital Retro11:13 am 16 Sep 21

I’ll put my tin hat on then.

Capital Retro8:56 am 12 Sep 21

Fact check:
The EVC claims Australians bought 7248 electric cars in the first six months of 2021. Figures published by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries show 2188 were sold by established brands ranging from Mazda to Mercedes, which means Tesla delivered about 5031 cars to customers.23 Aug 2021

If electricity consumption is going to double when EVs become the main form of transport, then we had better start constructing a series of nuclear power reactors across Australia.

Also, as EV batteries are very expensive and have a limited number of charge cycles, who in their right mind would allow the grid to draw from and then recharge their EV battery.

Capital Retro6:05 pm 13 Sep 21

Good point and it is noted that none of the usual experts have contradicted you.

Once these lockdowns end and people head for the hills, it’s not going to be in EVs, it’s going to be in diesel utes, towing a van

Capital Retro11:27 am 11 Sep 21

Without perusing a recent annual report from ActewAGL (the last one available appears to be 2009) it is difficult to determine why there are delays in extending EV charging stations in the ACT which seems to be what they planned a number of years ago with the “A Better Place” partnership which they lost millions of our dollars through.

Perhaps it is a case of “once bitten, twice shy”?

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