What does the EV community do when a state government drags its feet in rolling our charging infrastructure? For a group of stalwart West Australian EV supporters, it is literally a case of power from, rather than to the people.
The first 50 kW DC fast charger on the community-funded Esperance to Perth electric highway has been installed and commissioned on September 22 in Lake Grace, 325km from Perth.
The Tritium charger was installed by Gemtek Automation after electrical mains works were completed by Western Power. Installation costs were kindly covered by the Shire of Lake Grace, which has keenly backed the charger right from the start.
Institutional donor for the purchase of this charger, C D Dodd Scrap Metals, were on hand to use the charger for the first time – charging the company’s Ioniq before heading back to Forrestfield. Cobalt donor Harald Murphy was also there to test the new piece of critical infrastructure; charging his Tesla Model X before returning to Perth.
This charger is roughly halfway between Perth and Esperance and is critical for helping people in the Wheatbelt regions of WA to get to and from Perth. It is one of three chargers needed to complete the journey, with a charger for Ravensthorpe already purchased while a suitable site is being prepared.
While it is wonderful to see this community-funded project start to come to fruition, and the prospect of rural West Australians being confident in their purchase of an EV, it seems crazy that we need to fund critical transport infrastructure this way.
But people are tired of waiting for government to step up, so EV owners will simply do what needs to be done until then.
The WA state government has been sitting on a report commissioned by the WA EV Infrastructure Working Group for almost two years, which explicitly outlines the low cost of a seed network for the state – under $30 million would cater for the needs of a 1% EV fleet, or roughly 22,000 EVs.
Chris Jones is secretary of the WA branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association, which is a volunteer-run not-for-profit organisation with branches in all states and territories, and dedicated to transitioning Australia’s transport sector to electric power since 1973.
The fundraiser campaign can be found at https://chuffed.org/project/evhwy