A few weeks after the UK government put a temporary halt on its domestic charging station installation program in order to investigate abuse at the hands of ‘get rich quick’ companies, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles has relaunched the scheme. This time, the temporary scheme — there is a planned ministerial review taking place which will define a new scheme from September– is putting a check in place to make sure charging stations only go to plug-in car owners.
Starting July 1, all electric car owners in the UK will be eligible to apply for funding to help with the installation of a domestic charging station for a plug-in vehicle. The funding, limited to a cap of 75 per cent of the cost of the charging station to a maximum of
£900 £1,000 per household, will enable those who have an electric car to cheaply install a dedicated electric car charging station in their homes.
The scheme will run temporarily from July 1 through to August 31, whereupon a new scheme is due to start along similar lines.
Previously, the grant program was open to any UK homeowner wishing to install an electric car charging station. Limited to one charging station per address, the scheme was designed to offer a way for plug-in vehicle owners to cheaply install a home charging station without paying hundreds or thousands of pounds in the process. In its original form, the grant allowed for a 75 per cent government funding for each domestic charge point installation to a total of £1,000. The catch: homeowners would have to agree to data pertaining to their charging and vehicle use to be sent to the Government via a wireless connection built into every charging station approved under the scheme.
Under the terms of the old system, many charging providers opted to offer home owners 100 per cent free home installation for basic installations, paying the remaining fifteen per cent themselves and claiming the full government grant. This artificially kept the cost of domestic charging stations high, and also led to a growth in charging station installation companies keen to cash in on government funds.
While many charging installation companies operated in an honest and transparent way, many firms — often the same firms who had grown up in the ‘solar panel’ boom surrounding previous government incentives into renewable energy — resorted to cold calling homeowners to promote ‘free’ domestic charging stations. In many cases, they were able to persuade those without an electric car to apply for the free charging station, skewing data, wasting public funds and giving the domestic charging station industry a bad name.
Other unscrupulous installers would charge extortionate rates to electric car owners whose installations were anything less than ideal, quoting massively high rates for long-cable runs from the desired charging location to the nearest fuse box, or offering consumers unneeded upgrades to charging stations more powerful than their car was capable of using.
While the new, temporary scheme the same value grant as its predecessor, it still carries the same requirement for data sharing as the outgoing one. This means in exchange for the installation of a subsidised charging station, electric car owners will have to share their charging data with an approved OLEV installer — and they will still be required to have the installation carried out by an OLEV-approved charging station provider to be eligible for the grant.
But the most welcome change to the scheme will be the requirement that those applying for a free charging station must prove that they own a plug-in vehicle. This new rule will not only curb the number of ‘grant grabbing’ installations being performed, but it will ensure that funds are reserved for those who will genuinely make use of the charging stations.
The launch of the new scheme next week also marks the start of a new £9 million fund to improve UK electric vehicle recharging infrastructure, and includes the funding of both domestic and public charging stations.
There’s no word on what will replace this temporary scheme, but if you’ve got an electric car and live in the UK, it might be time to apply for your own domestic charging station.
Do you approve of the changes to OLEV’s domestic charging grant? Do you think it will make an effect on electric car sales?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
[edit: price clarified by OLEV to be £1000 for the temporary program, will drop to £900 in September]
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