Head of Renewables, Rory Tait writes the second instalment in his journey to buying an electric vehicle.
I have failed dismally in my quest to whittle down the number of EVs which have attracted me most (largely as a result of the large number of new models available to consider) and thought that I would instead turn my attention to one of the key questions for me – how will I go about charging my newly acquired EV? Do I go down the route of having a charging point installed at my property, or should I rely on the ever-expanding public charging networks?
I will start with the home charging option as I do have off-street parking, but there are issues with the parking which I will go on to explain below – it may be an issue which resonates with some folk’s experiences, but let’s get going.
EV Charging Options
There are any number of firms out there who will come and install a charging point at your property, and there are grants available from OLEV towards the cost of installation – up to a maximum of £350, which of course helps. There are a number of requirements which need to be met in relation to the electricity supply/metering etc and suitable location point for the charging point. It should be noted that to take advantage of some of the deals which are being advertised relating to selling electrical output back to the electricity grid from the EV, it is essential to have a smart meter (i.e. a 2 way meter recording both import and export of electricity from the property).
Local Council’s Approach to EV Charging
In the case of my property, given the size of the EVs which interest me, I have an issue with the length of the vehicles – all of them are slightly too long to fit into the off-street space to the front of the property with the result that they would protrude on to the pavement (albeit only by about 15 to 20cms). Thinking this through, I thought that it would be sensible to contact my local authority and ask them about this. In particular, I needed to know whether it would be legal to do this. The response which I got from the London Borough of Richmond was definitive – vehicles could not be parked where they obstruct part of the footway/pavement as this was potentially a hazard for pedestrians. Given this response I then considered whether it might be possible for me to park the EV in the street and pass the cable across the pavement from the charging point to the EV. I raised this issue with the Council and their response was that this would be a permitted temporary solution until such time as there were sufficient public charging stations in the Borough (no definitive number of stations was mentioned). However, the officer made it clear that if this solution was adopted, I would have to cover the cable with an external hard plastic cable protector, again for safety reasons.
I carried out some further research and found an article in the Daily Mail from November 2020 which addressed just this issue. They quoted the Local Government Association which stated that there was: “no legislation which they were aware of” which would make the placing of a charging cable across a footway illegal”. However, the article went on to say that a charging cable should only be placed over a footway when the EV was actually being charged, and that it should always be removed when not in use. It was also suggested that a raised plastic cable protector should be used.
The upshot of all this is that I had three potential options as far as home charging was concerned:
1. Install the charging point, park the EV on the street and cover the cable connection to the EV with a plastic cable protector;
2. Risk the EV protruding out onto the street by a tiny distance, and charge on the property (not a recommended route given legality/health and safety issues etc);
3. Abandon the home charging route and rely on the public charging networks; or
4. Choose a shorter EV!!
I am still minded to go down the home charging point route and will probably concentrate on options 1 (which will probably require a further consideration of the use of public networks at a future date), and quite possibly 4 given the number of new EVs arriving on the market.
To be Continued…
Blog number 3 will provide an update as to where I have got to in relation to the various issues which are still currently “up in the air”, and these may include my views on the EVs themselves as I intend to test drive a number of different models over the next few weeks.
About the Author
Rory Tait was a solicitor for 34 years prior to retiring from legal practice in 2020. His legal career has focussed exclusively on advising clients on projects in the renewable and clean energy sector from a regulatory and commercial standpoint. He has worked for a number of the larger Energy and Renewables legal practices including Eversheds where he jointly led the Renewables practice. Rory is an expert on the regulatory regime governing the electricity industry, and he has advised extensively on the structuring and execution of generation projects across the majority of renewables technologies. He has also advised on the acquisition and disposal of individual projects, as well as portfolios of renewables assets, and he has negotiated connection agreements and power offtake arrangements for developers. Rory is also the Secretary of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), and has held this role for the last 20 years. With his deep knowledge of the sector gained over the course of many years Rory brings together a combination of legal, commercial and regulatory expertise which provides a comprehensive all round advisory offering for clients.
Prospect Law is a multi-disciplinary practice with specialist expertise in the energy, infrastructure and natural resources sectors with particular experience in the low carbon energy sector. The firm is made up of lawyers, engineers, surveyors and other technical experts.
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