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New county-wide electric vehicle infrastructure for Cumbria

With support from the Energy Saving Trust, Cumbria County Council is about to introduce electric vehicles to its car pool. This has proven to be the catalyst for a large infrastructure project that will see 36 electric charging stations installed across the county. As well as serving the Council’s fleet, the EST says the charging points will provide “power to the people” at highly competitive rates, making the switch to electric vehicles a viable option for Cumbria’s residents, businesses and visitors.

As part of the Plugged-in Fleets Initiative, the Energy Saving Trust completed a review to assess the potential of electric vehicles for Cumbria County Council. Seeing opportunities to secure carbon and cost reductions, the Council introduced 15 electric cars to its pool fleet. However, with only four vehicle charging points across the whole county, without a structured approach to electric vehicle charging for the county, the Council – and everyone else in Cumbria – would be locked out of the benefits of electric driving.

Cumbria County Council and the Energy Saving Trust applied for an infrastructure grant from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to give the Council and the county the infrastructure it needed.

‘We saw that we could kick-start an electric vehicle revolution in Cumbria,’ explained Suzanne Pender, the Council’s travel improvement manager. ‘and we set to work to make it happen.’

With £1 million of funding secured, the charging points will be installed by the end of 2014 and the Council’s new electric cars will take to the road in early 2015.

 ‘It’s great news for the Council,' Pender said. ‘We estimate that this first step will reduce pool car CO2 emissions by around 24 tonnes and reduce our cost per mile – currently 35 pence for pool cars and 45 or 50 pence for employees using their own vehicles – to only 20 pence.’

The Council will provide electric vehicle charging to the public on a not-for-profit basis, charging only what is required to cover costs and maintain the infrastructure.

‘The Energy Saving Trust has helped us realise a vision that will benefit the whole of Cumbria. By accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles within the Council and across the county we’re unlocking vast potential for carbon reduction and economic benefit for individuals and businesses alike. Energy Saving Trust’s impartiality, commitment and hard work has allowed us to turn a modest initiative into a truly transformative project,’ Pender concluded.

Fleet managers can use a new Energy Saving Trust online tool to help decide if plug-in vehicles are right for their fleet.

Katie Beck

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