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Wairarapa's First EV Fast Charger Conquers the Divide

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wairarapa celebrates the opening of its first fast charge electric vehicle station in Featherston on Friday [November 25] - a milestone that opens the gateway between Wairarapa and Wellington to private transport of the future.

The charge station, in the Featherston Gateway Complex car park, is a joint project between Powerco and ChargeNet NZ, in collaboration with Trust House, on whose land it is situated.

The official opening, by South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier, will acknowledge the significance of linking the two regions, as part of a growing network of fast charge stations.

“Featherston is the gateway for both Wairarapa and Wellington, depending on which side of the Rimutakas you live on,” says Powerco chief executive Nigel Barbour.

“You have people who live in Wairarapa and commute to Wellington for work and Wellingtonians who like to visit the picturesque Wairarapa countryside on the weekends. The Featherston fast charge station provides a sustainable transport option for those who travel between the two regions,” he says.

“We hope its installation will encourage more people to make the switch to electric vehicles, which are cheaper, cleaner and quieter to run than traditional petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles. With most electric vehicles taking six to eight hours to charge via a domestic power point, one of the challenges until now has been the ability to charge them when away from home, but fast charge stations like this one can charge a vehicle in less than 25 minutes.”

Transport is responsible for 44% of New Zealand’s carbon dioxide emissions and around 16% of total greenhouse gas emissions. With 80% of New Zealand’s electricity supply generated from renewable resources, as a country we are in the perfect position to make a real difference, adds Mr Barbour.

The Featherston fast charge station will be the fifth opened this year by Powerco and ChargeNet NZ, who are opening another fast charge station together in Palmerston North on the same day.

ChargeNet NZ is the operator of the only nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations in New Zealand, having opened fast charge stations the length of the country in collaboration with a number of electricity suppliers.

This week will also see another fast charge station open in Napier, another key link-up point for the North Island.
Charge Net Chief Executive Steve West says the Featherston charging station is a great link to both Wairarapa and Wellington.

“This will hopefully encourage those who make the commute, to switch to electric vehicles, making it a practical option. The collaborative approach once again between Powerco, BMW, ChargeNet NZ and the local council has worked well.”

It could be said that the Featherston charger has been a ‘Wellington-Wairarapa collaboration’ from the start, stemming from a chance meeting between two men from either side of the Rimutaka Hill.

A year ago, having bought his first electric vehicle, Wellington man Sigurd Magnusson was keen to see how far it would take him. Wanting to ensure he would have somewhere to charge it when he reached his destination, Featherston Motels and Camping, he contacted the owner, South Wairarapa District Councillor Colin Olds, to enquire.

Mr Olds not only supplied Mr Magnusson with the electricity to charge his vehicle that weekend but, seeing the potential for bringing visitors to the region, he took it a step further by contacting ChargeNet NZ about the possibility of having a fast charger installed in Featherston.

“The fast charger is great step forward for the region both economically and environmentally and it’s exciting to see it come to fruition,” says Mr Olds.

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