We were unsure if EV Owners would be able to attend a Friday evening visit to Alpine Energy, but in the end but a good number of owners arrived, including three new members for whom this was their first community event.
Alpine Energy was one of the early adopters for Electric Vehicle Fast Charging in the South Island.
In fact, CEO Andrew Tombs said it was, at the time, one of the easiest proposals to get through the company’s Board and they saw the benefit of Electric Vehicles taking advantage of the distribution infrastructure already installed to use to better effect.
We were greeted by Nyia Strachan, Michael Boorer, and Andrew Tombs (CEO) and were welcomed to their new facility. The building was beautiful; mostly open-plan with breakout rooms entitled: The Temuka Room, The Geraldine Room, and so on. The Board room was The Aoraki Room - which is quite appropriate for our chiefly local maunga.
We were split into two smaller groups and went alternate ways around the building and learned what each section of workspaces supported. It certainly looks like a happy and confident team of people looking after our local electricity needs.
At the conclusion of our tour, we met up in the Board Room where Andrew Tombs took us through the fascinating history of the EV Charging network in South Canterbury and of their work with ChargeNet NZ Ltd to support the cause. South Canterbury is fully covered with EV chargers with one exception. Currently missing from the near completed network is Aoraki Mount Cook and Andrew teased us to try and consider the reason.
Of course, we tried:
- Lack of power supply
- not enough customers?
The answer was "no" to all of the above.
The reason is astounding ... the Kea! That pesky New Zealand mountain parrot, known for its love of rubber cables and hoses. The charger itself was exactly the type of thing that would interest a future-focused Kea.
Thankfully, a solution has recently been found and the last stand-alone charger in our region should be in during 2019.
The next steps for Alpine are to look at setting up charging pods (fuel station equivalents) with a number of fast and ultra-fast chargers on State Highway One. The supply of power to those pods is quite manageable
Won’t that be an exciting future? I’m buying a coffee shop nearby, that’s for sure.
Following the presentation, we had a bit of a chat with the new members (Tesla folk) and watched the famous Tesla dance routine. The Tesla group then went and investigated local fast charging and AC charging options around the city.
The South Canterbury EV Owners Group meets every few months. Meetings so far have included three movie evenings, a visit to an off-the-grid EV owner, a BBQ (with test drives for interested public), numerous displays and potluck dinners. New members are welcome
[Martin Kane - Better NZ Trust - 16 Nov 2018]