We are hearing from multiple sources that the ESB charger replacement rollout may be coming up against another hurdle, at least for some locations.

Several Councils here are apparently considering whether they can allow ESB to replace their chargers on Council property, without first offering the sites out to all charge point operators via tender. There seems to be a feeling that simply handing these sites over to ESB again, as they finally move to a pay-to-charge model here, could open up Councils to future legal challenges.

No doubt Council officials have been working on both the Faster Project and ORCS grant over the last year. It seems highly likely that ESB will submit prices for both schemes, and it’s easy to see how Councils can conclude it would be difficult to put out tenders for these new sites, but not the existing ones that have come to this natural break for renewal.

Operating History vs Speed to Market

EV drivers here will probably feel conflicted about this news.

On one hand ESB has an incredibly poor record for operating the NI network. In their own words at last December’s presentation to the Infrastructure Committee – “I think it’s fair to say that we’ve been quite uncomfortable with the state of the network in Northern Ireland over the last 2 to 3 years“. This has had a detrimental effect, not only on individual EV drivers, but also on the general transition to EVs in Northern Ireland.

On the other hand any tender process would undoubtedly increase the risk of a hold up in the already delayed ESB replacement rollout program. As an example, the Faster Project has still not published a tender document for Northern Ireland, more than a year after its launch. Some of that delay will be down to problems finding suitable locations which will not be an issue with these replacements. However, if we have learnt anything over the past 6 years, it’s that nothing happens quickly in Northern Ireland.


One response

  1. It definitely would be great to have new fast chargers that are working and available, however if this takes another year or two that won’t help. I wouldn’t mind paying for a charge as now you can spend ages just waiting to get one! Last Thursday I was at three fast chargers, two had cars left for anything from an hour to 6 hours. The other one I ended up waiting for an hour to get enough extra miles to get home. Two of the places near/in Belfast have enough room for at least half a dozen charge points, but have one!

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