Home-charging change could put brakes on electric cars

A proposal to let Queensland power providers disconnect electric vehicles during peak periods has been slammed as an “unbelievable” disincentive that could prevent the state reaching its emission-reduction goals.

The change, detailed in a draft of the Queensland Electricity Connection Manual, is one of several proposals being considered by state-owned agency Energy Queensland, which represents Energex and Ergon Energy.

If passed, it would make Queensland the only state to exert direct control over in-home vehicle charging, in a move academics and automotive groups said could undermine confidence in the technology.

The controversial addition to the manual, which outlines technical requirements for electricians, would only allow common car chargers to be installed in homes if power providers were given full control over the devices.

This change would let providers turn down or turn off power to connected vehicles during periods of high demand, and make Queensland the only Australian state or territory to do so.

Griffith University lecturer Anna Mortimore said she considered the state’s proposal “extraordinary and unbelievable” as 80 per cent of electric vehicle charging was expected to occur in homes.

The change could make consumers question whether they could trust electricity providers to charge their cars, she said, and could ultimately prevent Queensland from reaching its target of 50 per cent new car sales being electric by 2030.

“Are there going to be any warnings before they turn the power off?” Dr Mortimore said.

“People are not going to want to take the chance.”

The proposal has also been opposed by the Clean Energy Council, which recommended changes to allow electric vehicle owners to charge their cars using solar energy, and the Electric Vehicle Council that said the change could “negatively impact EV uptake in Queensland”.

The Electric Vehicle Council submission also said the view that consumers could not “be trusted to manage their own EV charging in their own homes” was not backed by multiple Australian trials.

“The (council) takes the view that forcing consumers to accept external control of EV charging in their home is entirely unnecessary at a technical level… and that it’s also unjustifiable at an economic level,” the submission said.

“It will only serve to reduce confidence among people considering an EV.”

Council energy and infrastructure head Ross De Rango told AAP most electric vehicle owners were carefully managing car charging during off-peak times and solar peaks and behavioural changes could be achieved using price tariffs.

“We look forward to a modified and improved version of the (manual) being published,” he said.

Energy Queensland is considering feedback on the Queensland Electricity Construction Manual draft after submissions closed on July 21.

The potential change is being considered just weeks after the Queensland government doubled its electric vehicle rebate, offering some buyers $6000 off the price of a new battery-powered car.


Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
(Australian Associated Press)


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