The UK Government’s Office for Low Emissions Vehicles has put a temporary hold on its Domestic Chargepoint Grant Scheme pending an investigation into the way domestic charging stations have been installed and marketed under the scheme.
That’s according to several industry insiders, who confirmed to us this morning that the OFT has requested all accredited domestic chargepoint installers halt future installations while it investigates supposed abuse of the charge point installation program, first launched last year.
Under the scheme, the UK government offers private plug-in vehicle owners up to 75 per cent of the total capital costs of purchasing and installing a domestic chargepoint for use with their electric car, up to a total value of £1,000. In return, the recipient of the charging station agrees to provide OLEV with charge point usage data automatically via a wireless 3G modem hidden in each approved charge point.
Obviously intended primarily for those who have a plug-in car or are about to get one, the OLEV charging point grant requirements doesn’t require applicants have an electric car at all however, meaning many of the charging stations installed under the scheme have gone to homes with no plug-in car.
Officially, the grant program is pending ‘ministerial review,’ although many insiders tell Transport Evolved that they believe numerous complaints have been received by OLEV from people concerned about the lack of clarity behind the system and aggressive sales tactics of a minority of installation companies keen to cash in on the UK Government’s latest green grant.
As with the Solar Panel installation company boom of several years ago when unscrupulous companies sprung up over night to try and cash in on massive Government incentives designed to encourage homeowners to install photovoltaic solar panels on the roofs of their homes, those inside the industry say charge point installations have become a quick way for get rich quick types wanting an easy piece of government funds.
While most official charging post installations are carried out by fully trained professionals, a small minority of rogue businesses are following sub-standard installation practices which are not only unsafe, but illegal under UK electrical installation law.
Moreover, while the scheme offers a way for some EV owners to get a home charging station for their car for free, most installations only cover basic circumstances where there’s a short cable run from the main household distribution board to the charging point. If your proposed charging point is further away — or you want more than a basic 16-amp, 3.3 kilowatt charging station — you’ll find yourself paying hundreds or even thousands of pounds in some situations.
It appears then that a small minority of installers have been spoiling things for the majority of well-trained, contentious charge point installers — but either way, the scheme is now officially on hold until it has undergone Ministerial review.
According to the installation companies we’ve spoken to, they have until the start of June to complete any outstanding domestic charging installations and send completed paperwork to OLEV — or they risk not being paid for charging stations already being used.
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