The Benalla Council has posted a new project proposal that could see the town become host to the largest EV charging location in Australia.
The proposed project is currently seeking feedback for a project that would see 20 dedicated electric vehicle charging spaces while retaining 21 spaces for general parking. Currently the largest Supercharger locations offer 10 charging places, while there is a 15-bay project in progress in NSW.
The regional town of Benalla is well-positioned to host a large EV charging location like this, located along the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Wodonga. Currently charging options along the 321km journey include Barnawartha North, Euroa and Avenel, with a new Wangaratta charging option due to come online soon.
Having options to stop in Wangaratta, Benalla, Euroa begins to approach the regularity offered by petrol refuelling options. Once these are in place, EV owners would have fast charging options inside every 100km between Wodonga and Euroa, leaving Seymour as the logical last piece in the puzzle between Melbourne and Wodonga.
Benalla has another big advantage, being located just 10km down the road from the Winton Motor Raceway. As EVs become more popular and grow in numbers, the amount of owners that are looking to take them to the track is also increasing and if a dedicated EV event was to take place, it would take fast charging infrastructure nearby to enable this.
There will be a staged delivery with the first stage consisting of the installation of 10 charges (31 retained for general parking) with another 10 to be added at a later date as needed.
The proposed chargers being installed would be Tesla V3 chargers, these charges will have the capacity to charge at 250 kilowatts. Options for charging non-Tesla electric vehicles will be explored as part of the agreement with Tesla.
Other infrastructure includes either a 2 Mega Volt-Amp or 2.5 Mega Volt-Amp transformer and seven ‘cabinets’ which are inverters providing power to three charging posts.
The project would be funded, constructed, and run by Tesla. The proposed carpark would be the largest Tesla EV charger site in the country to date. Tesla would be required to pay the council a fee per carpark per year.
This size of the project would make it a unique asset to Benalla and the location would allow for major economic flow on effects for local businesses particularly hospitality and retail, aligning with the Council Plan 2021-2025 strategy for ‘Flourishing Tourism’.
Benalla is banking that the owners of EVs charging at the proposed location will use their time to enjoy some of what Benalla has to offer, including, some of the local shops and cafes. The large number of chargers makes the site desirable for EV owners and drivers as they can be confident of gaining access to a charger on arrival. This is also ideal for local residents who either already have EV’s or are looking to purchase an EV in the future. They will be able to plug their car in, do their shopping around the Benalla CBD for 30min to an hour and return to a fully charged car.
The presence of EV chargers in Benalla particularly at this scale would be a positive step towards the Council Plan 2021-2025 strategy for encouraging ‘Sustainable Practices’. The project would promote more sustainable transport options and show the community that Benalla will support more sustainable projects.
Electric Vehicle sales in Australia increased by 65% in 2022, and with EV’s exempt from the fringe benefits tax as of July 1 2022, sales will continue to increase at a greater rate. Having the infrastructure in Benalla will also assist the Council in transitioning its own vehicle fleet towards EVs in the future.
The council is currently accepting feedback on the proposal ahead of being reviewed by the Finance and Planning Committee who will review community feedback and make a recommendation to the Council.
Following this, the recommendations from Finance and Planning Committee will be taken to the Council to make a decision at their meeting.
The proposal addresses one of the biggest potential complaints, which is consuming available carspaces, which they highlight, 31 carparks will be retained for general parking.