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For the regions and tourism: NSW electric vehicle vision welcome

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IN THE FINAL weeks of the federal election, the barrels of pork rolling down the slopes of Capital Hill were difficult to dodge or expel gloom. But a recent announcement from the NSW government signals a brighter outlook for supporters of Australia’s transition toward cleaner transport.

With the election of the federal Labor government, the outlook became brighter still for alternatives to fossil fuel-driven transport.

The NSW government, as part of its ongoing Electric Vehicle Strategy, has offered an added $20 million in co-funded grants to help set up Australia’s largest electric vehicle destination charging network.

What is a destination charger?

Destination chargers are generally located at, you guessed it, “destinations” — places where people like you and me love to travel, dine, taste wine (preferably both) or enjoy whatever other tourist attractions are available.

Unlike fast chargers (including the iconic Tesla chargers), which will fill your battery faster than you can finish your coffee, destination chargers are a wee bit slower. However, in less than an hour, they will allow you to have a meal, take in the sights, and receive a top-up of up to 130 kilometres — usually more than enough for excursions of this type.

A series of EV tourist drives will also be developed around regional NSW and a range of businesses will be able to apply for funding to install chargers, including; motels, wineries, cafes, restaurants, natural attractions, visitor information centres, museums, and zoos.

Currently on offer for businesses are a range of co-funded grants to roll out of up to 3,500 EV chargers across regional NSW

EV uptake in Australia on the move and NSW decarbonising the car fleet

By now, it must be pretty clear to most people that we are at the beginning of a massive growth in the purchase of electric vehicles in Australia. The price of EVs has been going down over the last couple of years while choice, range, capability and quality has surged.

The NSW Electric Vehicle strategy makes it possible for EV drivers to get out more and open their wallets at tourist destinations around regional NSW, helping local businesses struggling to survive post-COVID, post-bushfires, post-floods, post-Putin, or post-whatever comes next.

Currently on offer for businesses are a range of co-funded grants which will allow the roll out of up to 3,500 EV chargers across regional NSW. Grants range in size from $2,000 to $40,000 per site, and are part of a $171 million investment in decarbonising the NSW fleet over the next four years.

Local benefits

Member for Monaro, Nichole Overall, expects that expansion of the charging network will grow the local economy and support small businesses affected by pandemic, bushfires, or floods.

“In Monaro, the NSW Government in conjunction with the NRMA has already provided EV chargers for Jindabyne. There are also plans for more in Bungendore and Braidwood. Other prospective sites include Cooma and the Queanbeyan Civic and Cultural Precinct,” she said.

The grants can be used for the purchase and installation of selected EV chargers and their associated smart software, including:

  • 75% towards the cost of up to four AC chargers per site
  • 75% towards installation costs (capped at $1,000 per charger)
  • 50% towards charger software subscription (for 2 years)

State governments filling the EV policy vacuum

While federal government attitudes to greening Australia’s vehicle fleet were intentionally obstructive or just depressingly lethargic under the Coalition, most state governments, regardless of party affiliation, have been trying to pick up the pace and fill in the gaps.

The NSW Government Electric Vehicle Strategy, for example, aims to increase EV sales to 52% of all new car sales by 2030–31 and has ambitions for EVs to account for the majority of new car sales by 2035. In addition to grant funding for destination infrastructure the NSW strategy provides $131 million investment for ultra-fast charging, and another $20 million for EV charging in commuter carparks.

Public input to the strategy was provided by a number of peak bodies and interest groups in the EV space including the Australian Electric Vehicle Association (AEVA).

Warwick Cathro, Secretary of the local Canberra branch of AEVA, regards the NSW strategy as a positive move forward.

“The size of the government’s investment is significant,” he said, “and for local EV drivers we hope it will also address some of the charging gaps on existing routes, such as Marulan, and down to the South Coast.”

Service levels must be addressed

Mr Cathro explained that a major concern for EV drivers everywhere is the level of service and reliability offered by providers of charging infrastructure. It is expected that as EV numbers grow, the wear and tear on existing, and planned infrastructure will increase.

“It is important that service levels and reliability standards for charging infrastructure are properly laid out by the government to protect business owners and motorists from damaged and non-functioning chargers,” he said.

In the meantime, this funding should be great news for owners of tourist destinations around our region, and will help to create a better future for cleaner transport around  Queanbeyan and Palerang and from Canberra to the coast.

IMAGE: Shutterstock

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