Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan has offered little hope of Government action to stem the rising cost of on-street charging for electric cars.
Mr Ryan linked recent price increases to the cost of fossil fuels used in power generation and said, “the more renewables we have the cheaper that’ll get”.
ESB eCars, which is one of the State’s cheapest suppliers of on-street electricity for charging electric vehicles, has announced increases of up to 67 per cent in prices from December 20th, bringing the cost up as high as 68c per kW. ESB eCars previously increased charges by as much as 47 per cent in May.
Alternative roadside supplier Ionity already charges as much as 73 cent per kWh of electricity, while EasyGo which claims to have the most chargers, charges up to 70 cent a kWh with a connection fee of 26 cents.
The prices mean that for many fuelling electric vehicles will be at least as expensive as diesel, while in a number of cases it would be cheaper to drive a small petrol-powered car. The CSO noted in November that that wholesale electricity prices are falling, having dropped 36.6 per cent lower than in October 2021, and down by 52.0 per cent since September 2022.
Asked if the increases were appropriate at a time when the price of wholesale electricity was going down, Mr Ryan said price setting was a matter for each company involved.
“That’s a matter for each company deciding the cost of electricity has gone up and we can’t avoid that. It’s because of the high price of fossil fuels”.
However, Mr Ryan did say if electric vehicle owners charge at home at night “it’s much cheaper”.
He said home charging “means that not everyone has to pay that [roadside] price”.
“But that’s a result of our dependence on fossil fuels,” he added. “The more renewables we have the cheaper that’ll get.”
Mr Ryan was talking to reporters as he met young climate change activists, mainly schoolchildren, who were marking four years of protests outside Leinster House. He encouraged the protesters to keep going and said they were “an inspiration to a lot of people that we need to think of the next generation”.
“The very fact of getting the bus all from King’s Hos all the way here or walking down from Belvo, that act, that stepping out to be willing to come to, that act of stepping out to be willing to do the hard thing, stand in protest, make a banner, raise your voices, that gives hope, it dispels fear”, he told the group.
Mr Ryan also told the group that businesses which failed to grasp the climate change agenda would fail. A new climate change strategy is due before Cabinet before Christmas, he said. “I’m confident we can do it” he said.
“Any industry that thinks they can dig their heels in and be part of an outdated approach, they are not listening to these young people, they are not living up to their responsibilities and I don’t think any industry that thinks that way is going to survive”, he said.
Asked by reporters about proposals before the Oireachtas to decriminalising drug use, Mr Ryan said the Green Party saw merit in the Portuguese system.
Portugal became the first country in the European Union to decriminalise all drugs, including cocaine and heroin, under a statue passed in 2000. Although drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited in Portugal, violations of these prohibitions are deemed exclusively administrative violations and are removed from the criminal process.
Mr Ryan said the Portuguese system was “trying to reduce the harm that is being done to all sectors of society, including from the criminality associated with drug dealing”.