ELECTRIC vehicle drivers will soon have to pay for the first time when topping up at council-run charge points in Shetland.
It comes after Shetland Islands Council approved its budget on Wednesday.
Fees for rapid and fast electric vehicle top-up were contained in the list of charges for the first time.
Drivers will pay 57p per kWh for rapid chargers, and 47p per kWh for fast charge points. The aim is for the fees to be in place from 6 April.
The council’s environment and estate operations manager Carl Symons said the charges were purely to cover the costs and that there was no “profiteering” involved.
Electric vehicle drivers in Shetland have benefitted from free charging for a number of years, from Unst to Sumburgh, and usage – as well as the number of available points – has steadily risen.
But as council directors were tasked with identifying savings for the forthcoming financial year, fees are now being introduced.
A proposal for cheaper fees brought forward by Shetland Central councillor Catherine Hughson failed in a vote.
Lerwick North and Bressay member Arwed Wenger, however, said he felt with the price of electric vehicles, owners were likely to be able to afford the cost.
There was also mention in the council chamber that introducing charges could encourage commercial developers to enter the market.
Speaking after Wednesday’s budget approval Symons said the council used a tool which helps to calculate tariffs.
He said modelling the figures was tricky because the process was based upon usage numbers – which are only historic – and electricity prices, which only stretch into the next year or so.
Symons also acknowledged that introducing fees may encourage people to put in home chargers.
Referring to the local authority’s new fees, he said “one of the highlights I would say is that we do not charge any kind of minimum charge”.
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“We don’t charge for connection fees, we do not charge for overstays – although the overstays may come in at some future point,” Symons added.
He also said that at this moment time there is no particular budget for maintenance on the charging network.
“Everything we do on the charging network is being subsidised by the council, and when the council finds itself in its current budgetary position, that isn’t long-term sustainable. So the whole system needs to pay for itself.”
During Wednesday’s budget discussions four councillors said they would take no part in any debate on the fees as they were owners of electric vehicles – Alex Armitage, Andrea Manson, Robbie McGregor and Gary Robinson.
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