No spark in Portlaoise car charger

THE ESB cannot say how often their charge point in Laois is being used, but the busy Lyster Square parking space beside it is not kept reserved for electric cars.

THE ESB cannot say how often their charge point in Laois is being used, but the busy Lyster Square parking space beside it is not kept reserved for electric cars.

A week after being asked for usage data, the ESB could not provide details other than a statement that the data from the chargepoint’s meter would take time to download.

“I will need some time to download the usage data from the charge point so I cannot give an exact figure for this,” an ESB Ecars spokesperson said.

Electric car drivers stopping off in Laois could have a two hour wait before plugging in to recharge at the busy car park.

Once plugged in, they have another 90 minute wait to recharge, all while paying parking charges to Laois County Council for the privilege.

There are no immediate plans by the council to designate the space for electric cars only, or to waive parking fees for it.

“If we designate the space solely for electric cars, it would probably be empty more than full. Spaces are at a premium, we are trying to maximise them for businesses and shops. We have no problem allocating them, but we want to see a bigger take-up,” explained a spokesperson from the roads department.

Laois County Council agreed to ESB’s request to install the charge point, which they said was chosen because of a nearby electricity supply. The ESB have also requested permission to install points at the train station and at the Plaza carpark beside County Hall, which Laois County Council are considering.

A spokesperson from the ESB says legislation is on the way for parking spaces solely for electric cars.

“This issue has been discussed at both local and national level. There is legislation going through the Dail at the moment to allow local authorities to allocate car parking spaces for electric vehicles only,” the spokesperson said.

The ESB are providing free electricity to users of their public chargepoints for 2012, but next year a billing system will begin, much like the ‘pay as you go’ mobile top up.

“Charging an standard electric vehicle from 0 to 100 per cent costs approximately €1.80 at night-rate electricity and €3.60 at standard rate electricity,” the ESB spokesperson explained.

The ESB are planning for 100 hotels across the country to provide overnight charge points, but as yet, no hotels in Laois have applied to be included in the scheme.

The first electric car owner in the county, Jack Keyes in Portlaoise, is still enjoying his Nissan Leaf car. His son John says they only know of one other owner in Laois. He had reservations about the practicality of the charge point in town.

“It’s completely futile if another car is parked there. It needs to be exclusively for electric cars, with free parking,” he said.