Electric vehicle fuel bill saver for council
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.