Elec­tric ve­hi­cle fuel bill saver for coun­cil

The Bay Chronicle - - WHAT’S ON - STAFF REPORTER

The North­land Re­gional Coun­cil is ‘lead­ing the charge’ on elec­tric ve­hi­cles, with its 10-strong fleet believed to be among the largest of any lo­cal author­ity na­tion­ally.

Re­gional coun­cil­lor Justin Blaikie says the coun­cil cur­rently has seven full elec­tric ve­hi­cles and three plug in hy­brid elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

It also has a raft of 80 so­lar pan­els atop its Wa­ter St head­quar­ters, in­stalled three years ago, which help charge them.

The 20kW rooftop ‘so­lar ar­ray’ cur­rently gen­er­ates enough power to drive about 500 EV kilo­me­tres per day, cut­ting about $26,000 from the coun­cil’s an­nual fuel bill.

To put the size of the roughly $50,000 ar­ray in per­spec­tive, a typ­i­cal house­hold so­lar sys­tem has a roughly 2kW ca­pac­ity.

Blaikie says the North­land Re­gional Coun­cil’s foray into elec­tric ve­hi­cle own­er­ship be­gan sev­eral years ago, driven by the po­ten­tial long-term fi­nan­cial sav­ings and en­vi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits.

Blaikie says be­cause of the na­ture of some of the coun­cil’s work – and the dis­tances and ter­rain in­volved – it would not be prac­ti­cal or cost ef­fec­tive to swap to an all elec­tric fleet in the fore­see­able fu­ture.

How­ever, it was aim­ing to see as many of its 60-plus ve­hi­cle fleet as pos­si­ble us­ing some sort of elec­tric tech­nol­ogy over the next few years.

North­land has been a keen early adopterof EV tech­nol­ogy, with New Zealand’s first fast charg­ing sta­tion opened in cen­tral Whangarei in May 2014.

Blaikie says the re­gional coun­cil is proud to sup­port the rapidly ad­vanc­ing tech­nol­ogy.

The re­gion now boasts a num­ber of public elec­tric car charg­ing sta­tions, in­clud­ing sev­eral in Whangarei as well as at Kai­waka, Dar­gav­ille and Kawakawa.

In ad­di­tion there will be five new charg­ing sta­tions in the Far North by mid-2018.

Un­der a project dubbed ‘North­land’s Crim­son Coast EV High­way’, the new sta­tions will be in­stalled in Kaikohe, Waipapa, Man­gonui, Houhora and Waitiki Land­ing.

This will en­able lo­cals and tourists alike to travel the en­tire re­gion in elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Mean­while, Blaikie says in a sep­a­rate deal with Te Ahu Char­i­ta­ble Trust, Charge.net also has plans to in­stall a Kaitaia-based fast charge sta­tion shortly.

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