Electric Vehicle Charging – letter to the editor

An illuminating explanation of a major problem limiting the creation of new electric vehicle (EV) charging points, from my colleague, Councillor Matt McCabe – as published in the Bath Chronicle last month.

Dear Editor

In your article about EV charging, John Leach raises the disappointing lack of charging points across the city of Bath. The problem is the state of our electrical grid. It is old and desperately in need of upgrading. So, why hasn’t it been upgraded in the light of the Climate Emergency? Well, extraordinarily, Western Power Distribution is not allowed to spend money on infrastructure ahead of market demand.

This bizarre rule is set by OFGEM. Instead, WPD have to set out their funding plans for a period of time, which OFGEM has to approve. So, we are coming to the end of an 8 year period where creating capacity for renewables, heat pumps and EV charging was not seen as a priority. On the plus side, WPD have been engaging with stakeholders to see what they think the priorities should be for the next 5 year period.

When I attended one of these stakeholder events, there was a very strong message from all of us – create the capacity needed to respond to the climate emergency.

The Council has been working closely with WPD’s regional manager to identify areas of spare capacity to see if this matches up with the Council’s car parks, and additional fast charging will be going in next year. Unfortunately, the widespread and urgently needed upgrading of Bath’s sub-stations won’t begin until 2023. In the meantime, we are all telling OFGEM, there is market demand and WPD needs to meet it.

Cllr Matt McCabe

Cabinet Assistant for Planning and Sustainable Transport