Origin Energy is offering five hours of free electricity every day to EV owners – but there’s a catch.
You either have to take out a weekly subscription for an EV through the energy supplier starting at $244 per week for someone on the 37 per cent marginal tax rate, or pay $2700 to have a smart charger installed at your premises.
Origin believes its 360 EV Energy Plan, aimed at EV owners, will be niche for now.
“The reason why we’re limiting the availability of the plan to subscription and smart charging customers at the moment is just to really test that plan with a smaller cohort of customers so that we can learn and refine and take that learning to see how we would build a plan for the broader customer base,” says Origin’s GM of e-mobility Chau Le.
But there are plans to widen the scope of the free electricity plan once the company learns of usage patterns by EV owners.
“We’d like to get a bit of time to actually learn how customers respond to the price signal in the EV energy plan … before we build the broader plan,” she says.
If you qualify, the free electricity is only free between 10.00am and 3.00pm when anyone with solar energy will likely be generating their own power anyway.
Still, the Origin plan is indicative of a market adapting to EVs and their unique energy requirements.
A few years ago AGL offered EV drivers $1 charging per day, something that is no longer available.
Red Energy offers EV drivers two hours of free electricity each Saturday and Sunday between midday and 2.00pm.
There are many others, some offering off-peak rates that allow for charging an EV for about $5.
Origin’s 360 EV Energy Plan charges 18 cents per kilowatt-hour between 1.00am and 6.00am, allowing for a circa-$12 full charge.
The incentive for electricity retailers comes from the relatively high energy use of an electric vehicle – compared with most home appliances – and the flexibility with which EVs can draw electricity.
Most EVs will spend about 23 hours a day stationary, many in a home garage or office carpark, allowing people to choose when the car charges to lower the costs.
Smart chargers use software to determine when to charge, reducing costs.
EVs can soak up excess electricity – such as when solar systems are pumping it back to the grid – or when demand drops right off in the early hours of the morning.
Origin has partnered with Audi to provide access to the smart chargers and energy plan.
While details are yet to be confirmed, Le says the company is in discussions with other vehicle manufacturers.
“We are also in conversations with other OEMs (manufacturers),” she says, adding that the relationships with many are already in place due to EV drive days Origin has run previously.