Michelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)
Electric car chargers set for upgrade in Mid and East Antrim
Reliability of charging points is one of three main issues for electric car owners in Northern Ireland, the company’s boss admitted during a presentation to Mid and East Antrim councillors.
Speaking at a meeting of the borough council’s Direct Services Committee on Tuesday evening, John Byrne, manager of ESB eCars, said that additional rapid chargers and more vehicle hubs are key requirements.
Mr Byrne told the meeting that the reliability rate “dropped off” to 70 per cent last year but an interim investment programme has seen this rise to 82 per cent.
He reported that the 30 “worst performing” chargers have been replaced.
In Mid and East Antrim, these include three in Larne, at Agnew Street Car Park, Riverdale Car Park, a garage forecourt in the harbour area and at Galgorm Resort and Spa outside Ballymena.
The charger at Jordanstown train station has also been replaced.
Five rapid chargers are due to be replaced in the coming months upon delivery of new equipment.
Mr Byrne noted that these will be “twice as fast” and will have the capacity to charge “multiple vehicles at the same time enabling a 100 kilometre charge in six minutes. It is expected to be delivered later this year.
Braid DUP Councillor Beth Adger asked how many will be installed in Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus.
She claimed that there is just one charger working in Ballymena at present.
“It is a bit of a nuisance, Why not fix the ones we have at the minute?” she queried.
“There is no point having an electric car if it is going to have to sit in a garage and not be used.”
Mr Byrne said: “I can confirm that there are some of these new technology chargers going into your area.”
He pointed out that 30 chargers were replaced last summer.
“We are confident once new equipment lands we will be able to get stuck into this project and start to replace these older chargers,” he added.
Coast Road Ulster Unionist Councillor Maureen Morrow asked if a fee will be introduced for using chargers. She was informed that there is a cost in other regions.
ESB eCars has a network of 1,350 charge points across the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. There are 140 in Northern Ireland.
Mr Byrne also remarked that an “overstay fee” is to be introduced after vehicles have been allowed to remain plugged into a public charger for up to three days.