An electric vehicle (EV) owner has highlighted how a number of EV charging points available in the Fermanagh area are out of order and awaiting replacement, leaving many people stuck, particularly tourists.

The EV owner explained that he lives in Belfast, but has family in Fermanagh who he visits quite regularly, and therefore he requires the use of public charging points.

He noted that he would usually use the charging points in Irvinestown, of which there are two connected to one unit; however, the unit has been out of commission for at least a month, if not longer.

“The unit is entirely dead,” he told this newspaper, noting how he contacted the service provider, ESB eCars, regarding the out of order unit, to which they responded that the unit is beyond repair and will be replaced with a new unit during their ‘upgrade programme’ commencing in Quarter Three this year.

Beyond repair

The issue appears to be prevalent across the county, with the EV owner commenting that although Enniskillen is “arguably well-serviced” with ESB charging units, the majority of them are currently listed as being beyond repair and will need to be replaced.

“Then there’s another unit at the filling station at Trory,” he said, explaining that there are two charging points at Trory – one being a rapid charger providing 50 kilowatts of power.

“You can basically get half a charge – say half a tank, for argument’s sake – in about an hour, which is really good.

“But the rapid side at Trory was out of action [when I was there on Friday, July 29]. So it couldn’t charge rapidly; it could only charge by the type two [rate] which is, again, back down to about 11 kilowatts of power,” said the EV owner, noting that he was able to charge his car at the slower side, parking up at around 6pm and collecting it at 10pm that night.

“When I went back up to collect the car, there were two tourists from the South who were trying to make their way to Dublin and had been sitting at the charger for an hour and a half.

“They realised they weren’t going to get to Dublin, because the rapid side wasn’t working, so they were going to plug the charger in overnight.

“They had to book a hotel locally to stay for the night, because they’d gone into Enniskillen and couldn’t get any working charge points [there].

“It’s just a poor state of affairs. It’s really quite a poor situation for somewhere like Enniskillen that has a tourist industry,” he told this newspaper.

Agreeing with the broader issue and difficulties around charging points, at present, another local EV driver said: “The situation with the charging points in and around Enniskillen has been poor for the past three to four months.

“Sadly, it is getting worse, not better – we urgently need a better infrastructure in place for electric car users.”

The Impartial Reporter contacted Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and ESB regarding the issue of EV charging points being out of order.

In response, a Council spokesperson confirmed that ESB eCars are responsible for the operation and maintenance of these charging points.

“The Council understands that ESB are considering a programme of repair and upgrade of their EV charge points across Northern Ireland,” said the spokesperson, adding: “The Council will continue to explore other funding opportunities as they become available.

“However, substantial investment will be required in the EV infrastructure in the district to enable for the provision of more EV points.”

Also responding to The Impartial Reporter, an ESB spokesperson said: “Much of the EV infrastructure in Northern Ireland has been in place and free to use for the past ten years.

‘Require replacing’

“While scheduled maintenance is carried out every six months, due to the age of some stations, they are no longer repairable, and require replacing.

“ESB has secured funding for the replacement and upgrades of all these chargers across the province. New stations are on order, but delays are being experienced due to global supply chain issues.

“We do, however, expect the first of these to begin in the next few months.

“Additionally, as part of this project, we are planning to upgrade some of the existing sites to include rapid charging facilities, most of which will allow up to 100KW charging.

“This will improve the customer experience for EV drivers across Northern Ireland,” added the spokesperson.

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