For nearly a year, Dave Robbins has been driving an electric car, and he struggles to find a place to charge it up in Rathgar, where he lives.
Charging at home would require off-street parking or a driveway. Robbins thought he would be able to rely on the public charging points.
“There’s virtually no public infrastructure,” he says. “There’s none in Terenure. There’s none in Rathmines. There’s none in Harold’s Cross. There’s none in Rathgar.”
A lot of people in these areas live in terraced houses and apartments, without off-street parking or driveways.
“So, basically, you’re ruling out that whole area from taking up electric vehicles because there’s no means of charging them,” he says. “It’s a bit dispiriting really.”
Some, like Robbins, say that the ESB needs to improve the situation. Others say the solution could be a technological one.
Pressures on Parking
Parkview Avenue in Harold’s Cross recently lost its charging point for electric cars. A spokesperson for the ESB said that the charge point was underused, so it was removed.
“For (…) drivers who live close to this area and do not have the means to charge at home for normal usage, there are alternative public charge points available,” they said.
The Parkview Avenue charging point had already been in the bad books of some.
In this area there “are more parking permits than parking spaces”, according to a motion submitted to Dublin City Council’s South East Area committee in April by Labour Councillor Mary Freehill.
The motion called for a sign so people know that the station is also a parking bay for residents with discs.
There was “an incident … when a person who wanted to recharge their car expected a resident to move their car,” she said.
The resident was legally parked so the electric-car owner double parked, recharged their car and left it there for the day, thereby “trapping in the resident who couldn’t access her car to collect her children”, said Freehill.
In 2015, its transport committee passed a motion to clearly signpost all charging points as well and paint “reserved” boxes in front of them.
Some see the ESB’s removal of the charge point as a step backwards and indicative of a larger problem, that of a conflict between on-street parking and ESB charging points.
Green Party Councillor Patrick Costello says there are plenty of similar areas that are “very high demand” for parking spaces like Parkview Avenue because they have terraced houses with on-street parking.
The city needs more, not fewer, charge points, Costello says. “Without this improved infrastructure you are not going to get people to switch to electric vehicles,” he says.
He says the council and the ESB need to work closer together to solve issues relating to charge points and on-street parking and when the two conflict.
“The issues within Harold’s Cross were very real. You had people who want to be able to park on their own road and people who want to be able to charge their car competing over a tiny amount of space.”
This needs to be addressed, says Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan. And it’s not just on the ESB to improve things, he says.
“One of the difficulties is that the council are not really advancing [electric vehicles] as a residential option,” says Ryan. “I think that’s a real problem.”
“When you come down to the specifics in terms of street-by-street, then you run into problems where the city council are saying, ‘No, you can’t have it there because we don’t want to give up any car-parking space,’” he says.
As it stands, there are 177 charge points across Dublin, according to the ESB. Many of these are located in or near the city centre. With the removal of the Parkview Avenue one, they are now few and far between in the south-east area.
A Dublin City Council spokesperson said that the council is in regular contact with the ESB about charge points.
“Numerous meetings have been held between the Council and ESB E-cars regarding the relocation of some charge points located in certain unsuitable locations,” said a council spokesperson.
The council and ESB are also in ongoing discussions about the roll-out of further charging-only parking bays, the spokesperson said.
The Green Party’s Ryan is unconvinced about the council’s willingness to encourage electric car ownership, however. “I think their [the council’s] priority at the moment is revenue for parking rather than cleaning up city air,” he says.
Ryan says that a massive increase in national infrastructure is needed for electric vehicles and that the ESB should not be removing charge points.
“I think the ESB are wrong to start taking them out as they did in Harold’s Cross. They need to start putting in a threefold, fourfold, fivefold increase in normal charging points,” he said.
We Want One
There are technological solutions to the lack of charging points that the council and the ESB could try, says Costello of the Green Party. “The obvious solution is sticking charge points in all the lampposts.”
An ESB spokesperson said it is always monitoring trends in technology, but it doesn’t have plans to introduce charging points in lampposts at the moment.
Robbins still wants to know what became of the charge point removed from Parkview Avenue in Rathgar.
The ESB spokesperson said that because the charge point wasn’t used enough “a decision was made to relocate to where demand (…) is greater.” They didn’t say where that is.
Robbins says he has asked for a charge point to be installed at Brighton Square in Rathgar, where there isn’t much pressure on parking, he says. “I got support from the resident’s association and from Terenure Energy Group.”
He says he has written multiple times to the ESB, with requests: “You remember the one you put in Eaton Square which was also removed, could you put it here? The one you removed in Harold’s Cross, could you put it here? You know we actually want one.”
“I’ve gotten no reply from them,” he says.
A Dublin City Council spokesperson says that the council plans to reexamine its policy towards electric-vehicle owners, in a review of council parking bye-laws.
The ESB says it “continues to work with Dublin City Council in relation to the location of on-street public charge points in Dublin city centre and across the country.”