Road to more electric charging points paved with potential potholes

Cantillon: ESB plans to double network of power points but objections may follow

ESB’s plan to more than double electric vehicle chargers to 3,000 from 1,350 by the end of the decade is bound to raise a few eyebrows. The State-owned energy group has been building these for some time, getting a head start on potential rivals.

That is where the issues arise. Any likely competitor has to go to ESB Networks, a subsidiary of the State business, to get access to the electricity system, so they can sell power to their customers.

At an event on Monday, Paddy Hayes, ESB chief executive, noted that ESB Networks was a separate business from electricity generation and supply, is very heavily regulated to ensure that anyone seeking connections is treated equally, and there is no preferential treatment for other businesses within the group.

Power price

Existing motor fuel suppliers are looking at getting into this business, obviously, while Bord Gáis Energy is providing chargers at home. Interestingly, that company says it should soon be possible for motorists to charge their cars anywhere at the same price they pay for electricity at home.


Hayes said it was correct for regulators to demand that ESB Networks treat allcomers equally. But that is not going to stop people raising questions about the group, particularly given concerns about it that politicians and commercial rivals have highlighted recently. ESB itself maintained that these claims were groundless.

Charging hubs

As electric vehicle charging becomes more common, it is bound to attract planning objections. It is easy to see people getting concerned at these facilities sharing space with traditional petrol pumps, or simply opposing the development of charging hubs at particular sites.

That will not only affect the ESB but, as the group is going to be one of the biggest in the vehicle-charging business, it is likely to run into objections more frequently than others. Either way, the road to an expanded electric vehicle charger network looks to have plenty of potential potholes.