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Preparing for an electric future

“MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR benefits” are expected to flow from the creation of an electric vehicle (EV) charging network here next year, and Gisborne’s first EV charger is ready to go.

As part of an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) funding programme, the Government has confirmed Gisborne-based Eastland Group will receive $251,000 towards ?electrifying the Pacific Coast Highway” by installing six electric vehicle charging units across the East Coast — a move Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd says has the potential to bring multimillion-dollar savings for the community.

“This is a major leap forward for the region. It’s all part of the vision to ensure we lead the way in emerging technologies for the benefit of the community, the economy and the environment.

“The East Coast section of the Pacific Coast Highway travels through some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand but, until today, it has been a key gap in the rapidly expanding national EV charging network.

“This project is critically important. It will further open up the region to tourists and encourage local uptake of EVs, as they are a genuinely viable, cost-effective, low-emission option.”

Analysis had shown the Gisborne region spent about $120 million a year on petrol, diesel, repairs and insurance for transport and travel. If the total Gisborne fleet moved from internal combustion engines (ICE) to electric vehicles (EV), up to $60m every year could stay in the pockets of Gisborne people.

Mr Todd said businesses could now seriously consider switching to EVs, as they would be able to travel throughout the district and further around the North Island with convenient charging stops on the way.

Fast-charging unitsThree 50kW fast-charging units will be installed at Wairoa, Putorino/Kotemaori and inland at Matawai, along with three 25kW units at Tolaga Bay, Te Araroa, and Morere.

“The aim is to have them all installed and operational by Christmas. We’re working closely with Unison and the relevant local organisations.”

The remaining project costs will be covered by Eastland Group ($181,000) and Eastland Community Trust ($100,000).

ECT chief executive Gavin Murphy said there would be significant, long-term advantages for the community,

“Norway and the Netherlands are planning to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2025, with France and the UK following by 2040. In New Zealand, the government is aiming to double the EV fleet each year, reaching 64,000 EV registrations by the end of 2021.”

EVs were far cheaper than petrol vehicles to run.

“This is the future of transport and we need to be ready.

“ECT will continue collaborating with Eastland Group to promote the use of EVs and help reduce the amount of money our community spends running traditional vehicles, as well as encouraging EV visitors to the region.”

The six new chargers are in addition to the region’s very first 50kW EV charger, in Gladstone Road, which was unveiled by Mayor Meng Foon yesterday.

Regional benefitIn a letter of support that accompanied Eastland Group’s application, Mayor Foon said that the council “believes that the fast charging infrastructure will be a great benefit to both our community and our region.

“Someone alerted me on social media that they don’t have these in Perth, Australia, but we do in Gisborne.”

He noted that it would encourage more tourism by opening up the 240km route around the East Coast to visitors in EVs.

Wairoa mayor Craig Little commended Eastland Group for their decision to locate a number of the electric vehicle charging stations within the Wairoa district.

“The decision by Eastland Group to locate some of these installations within the wider Wairoa district is great news for us. This is about future-proofing our district because we need to be prepared for the increasing number of electric vehicles that will be hitting our roads in the future.”

“I want to congratulate Eastland Group in their successful bid and I think it’s great that the Wairoa district will become home to some of these charging stations. Locals and visitors alike will certainly benefit with Wairoa and the wider East Cost being a viable destination for travellers in electric vehicles.”

“We won’t be one of those places where we’re so off the beaten track that we’re unable to accommodate electric vehicles, we’ll be a region that is ready to welcome people who will increasingly be using electric vehicles to visit our beautiful part of the country,” Mr Little said.

Unison Networks, electricity distributor for Hawke’s Bay, Taupo and Rotorua supported Eastland’s application and is providing technical assistance given its recent experience of installing EV fast-chargers across its network.

Unison relationship manager Danny Gough welcomed the chargers.

“These chargers will help to bridge another significant national travel gap, allowing EV drivers to travel between this region, Hawke’s Bay, Taupo and Rotorua in an EV without range anxiety.”

Range anxiety‘‘Range anxiety’’ is a term given to concerns from EV drivers that the car’s battery will run out of power and is one of the most significant barriers to EV adoption.

Bay of Plenty-based Horizon Networks also received $115,000 for three fast charging units at Opotiki, Te Kaha and Murupara, which will provide accessible EV routes within and between the Eastern Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, Rotorua, Taupo and the Western Bay of Plenty region.

Combined with the Horizons grants, EV owners will be able to travel between Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty, and Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay.

Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins has announced funding agreements for 15 projects to increase charging facilities for electric vehicles.

“The projects show there is an electric vehicle for almost every job, be it rental cars, waste trucks or courier vans.

These options make more sense because of how cheap electric vehicles are to run and maintain, and how easy they are to charge.

“The fund projects will add further momentum in New Zealand where more and more people and businesses are making the switch to electric vehicles.”

Government statistics show 4027 EVs are now registered in New Zealand, with around 200 EVs registered each month.

The Government aims to accelerate the update of EVs to reach 64,000 by the end of 2021.

HANDS TO THE PUMP: The opening of Gisborne’s first electric vehicle charging station yesterday, with Gisborne Electric Village energy champion Katherine Evett, Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd, ECT chief executive Gavin Murphy, Mayor Meng Foon, Unison commercial general manager Len Gould and Unison customer solutions manager Nigel Purdy.The 50kW fast-charging station is opposite the Gisborne police station on Gladstone Road, and will take EV owners about 30 minutes to fully recharge a vehicle, by using two DC adapters and one AC adapter. It will be free until March 31, 2018, and has space for two vehicles to park. Picture by Liam Clayton
ON THE MAP: A map showing the planned new EV charging stations for the East Coast, along with existing stations already operating across New Zealand. Picture supplied