Highland councillors have agreed to charge for use of their EV charging network by June, and set tariffs among the highest in Scotland.
The council is joining other local authorities in starting to charge for the service, but at 30p per KWh, the tariff is higher than the others, except for Midlothian.
A fee of 20p per kWH for slower charging is also slightly higher than most other authorities.
At this week’s economy and infrastructure meeting, climate change and energy team manager Jackie Sayer told councillors that the current network of 50 EV chargers in Highland is cost the council £50,000 last year – a bill that could potentially double as the network expands and the number of EVs on the roads continues to grow.
She said the fees were primarily to cover the costs to the council of the electricity and manpower needed to maintain and administer the network.
Any surplus will be reinvested into the network.
“The number of EVs on the roads in the UK last year doubled last year and we’re expecting that to rise further.
“We’ve learned from other local authorities who have gone before us and adopt what at this stage appears to be good practice.
“We’ve made sure our approach is fully endorsed by the community interest company Electric Vehicle Association Scotland which represents the interests of EV users in Scotland.”
She pointed out the many uncertainties surrounding future EV charge point usage and cost, as many owners start to opt to charge at home.
“It’s hard to predict what the usage will be over the coming year, so we are recommending that an annual review to make sure the system remains fair, simple and sustainable.
“Where other councils have introduced a tariffs there have been changes in usage.
“It’s important for us to gather data during the next few months and be able to reflect on what the changes are, and how our model compares to the usage.
“We don’t want to undercut the commercial rate at the moment, which is about 30 pence.”
Highland Council’s EV charging network has been grant-funded by Transport Scotland, with an initial condition of keeping them free to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles, but now the Scottish Government is encouraging local authorities to move to a more sustainable model.
The councillors agreed that charges were necessary, but councillor Andrew Jarvie questioned the wisdom of a 30p charge.
He said he feared the high cost would be a disincentive.
He said: “Even as an electric car sceptic they are part of the future and we need to encourage uptake.
“Charging twice what you are at home is a disincentive.
“Where is this huge private sector charging network we are at risk of competing with?
“The council is the largest charging network in the Highlands and what it does makes a difference.
“This is still a new technology with low uptake and it needs encouraged.
“Charging the same as people pay for electricity at home is the most sensible option.”