What's New

Unplugged: AT cans ferry car-park chargers

Flagstaff Team

Chargers installed in 153k project effectively obsolete

Power cut… one of the EV chargers being removed from the ferry terminal car park

Auckland Transport (AT) is removing the two free electric-vehicle charging stations it installed at the Devonport ferry terminal car park eight years ago.
The chargers, touted at the time as “smart pole” technology, were part of a $153,000 project, with $75,000 of that funded by a grant from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.
They have been plagued with problems and in recent times have carried signs showing them to be out of order.
Their removal will leave the peninsula – which has a relatively high proportion of electric vehicles – with just two public chargers, at the New World supermarket car park.
AT told the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board at a workshop last week that it had decided to remove the chargers rather than repair them again, and redesignate the two vehicle spaces in the short-term parking area adjacent to Queens Pde as regular car parks.
AT said the German supplier of the smart poles went insolvent soon after installation, leaving AT without support and having to modify the charging stations to keep them functioning. “Due to the age of the technology, the lack of support from the original supplier and regular breakdowns… it was agreed to remove these EV charging stations.”
Principal sustainability adviser Sandra Murray told the workshop AT was working on clarifying its regional role in supporting EVs by early next year. “We need to let people know they’re going, to give them some time to find other chargers to use,” she said.
Board chair Toni van Tonder said losing the chargers would be a loss to the area. Retailers had raised concerns for several years about them being out of commission.
Board members were concerned that AT might end up spending public money removing the machines and their connections, only to have to pay later to install new ones.
Member George Wood asked: “Why can’t we keep them going for a short while?”
Murray said any future installation would need more modern equipment. Member Gavin Busch also favoured keeping them in place. Leaving the infrastructure might entice a new operator and would save rewiring and having to dig up garden areas again.
Murray said the chargers – initially installed as a trial – were basically obsolete. “We have to send people there on an ongoing basis and they go down very often.”
Busch said if the spaces were to be redesignated, assigning them to ride-share vehicles would be a good idea in the short-term.
Van Tonder asked AT to look into the idea.
Member Mel Powell wondered why electrical companies were not taking more of a lead in providing EV chargers. Murray said Vector had backed away from doing this.
Several months ago, Vector told the board Devonport had one of the highest uptakes of electric vehicles across the city.
Board deputy chair Terence Harpur said he was surprised AT had been giving free power to EV users. “I don’t see this as a role of AT.” Service stations could install them and charge people to use them, he said.
Murray said it was yet to be decided if AT should be supporting EVs. This was being decided in conjunction with council and the New Zealand Transport Agency.
“That’s the work AT is doing on what is appropriate for a public service organisation and what benefit it would have on uptake.”
If there was any wider roll-out it was expected to include a Devonport site, however this might be in a slightly different location, she said.
The board has no decision-making authority over having AT chargers locally, but wanted to be kept updated on any timelines for their removal.
Van Tonder said AT should consider asking for community views to avoid being criticised for “decisions made for people, not with them”.

Please consider supporting The Devonport Flagstaff by clicking here: