Introduction And Things To Consider

Installing new EV charging infrastructure might seem like a daunting task so we’ve created this resource to break the process down step-by-step. Whatever point you’re at along the way, there will be some useful information, case studies and masterclass guides from experienced local authority and infrastructure specialists to help make your EV transition as smooth as possible.

But if you’re starting at the very beginning, this introductory video will take you through the basics. It features some general advice to bear in mind, a guide to the different charger types and some other useful tips to help you get started. 

Potential Challenges

Like installing any new infrastructure, you will likely face some challenges. Here are some of the difficulties you may encounter:

Step 1: Procurement

The variety of business models and funding options for EV charging infrastructure has expanded as the market matures. Combining funding sources and leveraging private investment are becoming new trends, providing local authorities with opportunities to develop EV networks without significant capital invested by the council. However, differing models can have drawbacks that could prevent all sites from being considered commercially attractive by suppliers.

We look at an overview of the three approaches available to local authorities: owning and operating, private practice and mixed funding (or public-private partnership). 

Here is an overview of the different approaches and an outline of what a local authority can expect from a chargepoint operator.

Local Authority Network Ownership Models

You can find out more about this in the two videos above

As mentioned above, there are three typical models of EV charging network ownership for local authorities with varying levels of public involvement. This video gives a quick overview of each:

Public fast chargepoint (7-22kW) installations, especially on-street, present a high level of commercial risk for chargepoint operators due to the significant upfront costs and relatively low utilisation rates resulting in long payback periods. Securing some grant funding, looking at a mix of fast and rapid chargepoints in the tender, offering flexibility on which sites to deploy and longer contract lengths are some of the ways that a local authority can make these installations more commercially viable. For destination and rapid chargepoints, operators will favour locations that do not require expensive grid upgrades and have good footfall and facilities nearby.

Own And Operate Model

The local authority will take on full ownership of the chargepoints and have the autonomy to select chargepoint locations and set charging tariffs, while receiving a large share of the revenue. An operating and maintenance contract will be agreed, often with the same chargepoint supplier. The local authority is responsible for covering the ongoing costs, for example, insurance, back-office software and electricity supply, as well as maintenance of the chargepoints. With this approach, the commercial risk sits with the local authority. Therefore, this model has mainly been seen where very substantial grant funding was available to cover the initial capital expenditure. This approach may be appropriate for small-scale or low-cost projects, such as retrofitting lampposts with charging sockets or straightforward, small car park installations, but has limitations when looking at scalable networks.

Private Ownership

In some instances, a private company might take ownership of the entire project and fund it themselves. This will come at near to zero cost for local authorities and will require little involvement other than to grant permission for the new sites to be built, ensure consultations with residents have taken place and to check that the new sites comply with all regulations.

Under this model, local authorities have an increasing range of options when procuring chargepoints. This approach can help local authorities overcome capital constraints, transfer cost and risk liabilities to the private sector, as well as harness suppliers’ expertise in chargepoint deployment and maintenance.

Depending on the nature of the agreement proposed, it can seem to some local authorities that control over maintenance and the pricing charged to users is being handed over, which could potentially result in a poor quality service for residents if not managed responsibly by the charge point operator. More companies are looking to offer this type of proposition and detailed due diligence is required by the local authority to ensure that the business has the right long-term financial backing already in place and understands the risks and issues that are being taken on. With the risk of gaining sufficient revenue from the chargepoints being transferred to private businesses, they will be highly incentivised to ensure the uptime of the system, as having paying customers using it frequently will be the only way they can get a return on their investment.

Public-private Partnerships

The most common model, then, is a public-private partnership between local authorities and one or more private companies. This is also the most customisable model which can be tailored to accommodate your budgetary requirements, access to funding and the investment you are able to secure from your private partners.

Certain projects are more commercially attractive than others. For example, if a local authority requests funding from the chargepoint operator, the operator will need to see a return on their investment in order for it to be deemed economically feasible. The contract terms, such as the level of profit share and contract length should reflect the balance of risk and reward for the project – this will need to be negotiated into the agreement with the operator.

Next Steps

Once a decision is made on the contractual approach or delivery model to be taken, local authorities need to consider the frameworks available and develop the tender documentation, or decide on a direct award if appropriate. Where possible, the requirements should stem from an EV strategy or delivery plan adopted by the council, and any initial feasibility studies or consultancy analysis that a chargepoint operator or suitably qualified consultant can provide.

You can find out more about this in the two videos above

  • There are a number of different sources of funding available that fall into 3 categories; local authority funds, central government funds, private sector funds
  • The central government funding models are of course subject to review and update based on current Government policy
  • Currently the main source of funding for chargers is from OZEV using the ORCS funding for on-street. You can find out more here

Step 2: Operational Buy In

Deploying EV charging infrastructure is a complex activity that, within a local authority, requires a large number of stakeholders across many areas to work together. The functions within a local authority that are likely to be engaged include:

  • Procurement
  • Legal
  • Highways
  • Parking
  • Engineering/Electrical/lighting (depending on who controls power)

Given the number of stakeholders that need to be aligned, a large part of mobilising EV charging projects is about understanding the governance needs and managing expectations and delivery in a complex organisation. In many local authorities, there is often not a dedicated EV charging lead who takes accountability for delivering projects, which adds to the obstacles that local authorities face.

Without dedicated resources who can build up industry knowledge and insight (which need constantly updating as the market and technology is moving at such a pace), LAs are often forced to access external consultant support, often at considerable cost.

The good news, however, is that many charge point operators can offer a similar level of capability to help find sites, consult with the public and help the council on every step of the journey. It is therefore critical for local authorities to know what real capability and competence the charge point operator can offer to provide impartial advice.

Facing Opposition

Like any new development that brings change, you will face some opposition throughout the process of installing EV chargers. The benefits that it will bring might not be felt immediately, but later down the line and delivering this infrastructure on the scale that is needed might well seem like an insurmountable task for some people. 

It will be important to set an aspirational goal and rewrite expectations, not just of the public, but councillors and partner companies as well. 

Below you’ll find a case study from Hammersmith and Fulham Borough Council, who were able to deliver more than 1000 EV chargers across the borough by setting ambitious targets and collaborating with their residents throughout the process. 

Rewriting Expectations

Typical Reasons For Opposition Within Local Councils

It is important to preempt some of the main reasons for opposition you will face. Overcoming these will ensure you get effective buy-in. Here’s some of the typical arguments you might come across.

You can find out more about this in the video above

Establishing Partnerships With The Private Sector

As well as convincing councillors and the public, you will need to attract some suitable private sector partners to help carry out your project. It is important to understand this relationship as a partnership rather than as a provider to a client and it’s important to present it in this way to the companies, as this video explains.

You can find out more about this in the video above

Key Publications

Here are some useful publications that will help you get your project off the ground, as well as some tips on safety and maintenance

Step 3: Legal Agreement

here are a number of ways that local authorities can enter into a contract with CPO’s (Charge Point Operators) once they have determined what type of funding and ownership model has been agreed, as these will significantly impact the terms that the CPO will sign up to.

It should be expected that when a CPO is providing a fully-funded model, they will want to use their standard contract terms, which will often include a lease/licence that will provide them with a level of comfort that they have the right to provide their services in that specific location for an agreed period, often for 10+ years and longer and aligned to the higher speed of charger being installed. These contracts will set out clearly what risks are being handled by each party, along with the termination 

Where a local authority is providing the funding, then the local authorities is likely to want to use an install, operate and maintain agreement, ensuring that the CPO delivers what they say they will in the right time frame.

One of the biggest considerations from a financial and legal perspective to understand is where do the liabilities sit, in case of a worst-case scenario, such as injury (or worse) from use of, or interaction with (such as the potential trip hazards) EV charging equipment. There are many new methods of providing EV charging ‘on the cheap’ and where power comes from a residential household, but if the charging event happens in the public space, the liability issue becomes a real concern for most local authorities.

Most CPOs should be willing to share their template agreements with local authorities once they have been selected as the prime bidder, but often not before, as they frequently contain intellectual property which the CPO has invested in. They should however, be able to provide a ‘plain English guide’ that walks the local authority through the key points and mechanisms.

Many CPOs are pushing to get a standard form of agreement that can be used by any local authorities which follows the model that has been developed in London with the GULCS framework.