After a slow start 113 UK councils have now taken advantage of a grant extension to work towards zero emissions targets by installing electric vehicle (EV) charge points.

The On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) funds 75% of installation costs of plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure for residents without access to off-street parking. With Charge Point Operators (CPOs) offering to match fund the remaining 25%, it’s a unique opportunity to improve air quality and generate revenue while helping constituents lower their carbon footprint. What’s more, councils can use their choice of charge point locations to address inequalities in their communities and ensure access is fair.

The volume of ORCS applications rose by more than 50% from 43 in 2019/20 to 67 in 2020/21 and since deadlines were extended and various barriers were lifted, 2021/2 applications are on track to more than double this.

How to apply

  • Check if you are eligible – Councils in all regions of the UK can apply for charge points in areas without off street parking if they own the land or have explicit support of the relevant Highways Authority. The definition of “on-street” has been expanded to include certain car parks and other council-owned areas which were previously excluded.
  • Understand the funding – With ORCS providing 75% of the capital costs the remaining 25% can be paid by the council, or through match funding with a CPO such as EB Charging. Councils can also team up and apply as a consortium. If match-funded, there is no cost to the local authority, but they still receive an agreed profit share after a contracted period of time. Those who choose to self-fund the 25% keep all the revenue from drivers buying electricity through these charge points.
  • Work with a CPO – Charge Point Operators work with local authorities to inform the bid process; carrying out site surveys, applying lessons from previous applications and gathering relevant information. It costs nothing to access this expertise, and many are willing to support a grant application without any commitment to procure from them. If you choose to match fund through a CPO, once you receive the grant and pick a supplier, a commitment of five years or more is usually required to recoup the CPO’s investment.
  • Appoint a dedicated lead – Applying for the grant is a complex process involving many different areas such as highways, parking and environment. The lead person can be from any department, and we’d recommend someone with the drive and determination to push an application through to the finish.
  • Choose locations carefully – Installation costs, technical challenges and potential financial returns all influence location choices, but ORCS funding is also an opportunity to address social inequalities. With new petrol and diesel vehicles to be banned by 2030, councils can work towards a future in which all residents have access to electric vehicles, not just those in wealthier neighbourhoods.
  • Plan your timeline – Many elements must come together to submit an application. If you are 100% dedicated and focused on relatively simple sites, the whole process can be achieved in two or three months. If installation involves major road closures etc, it could take as many as six months, and Distribution Network Operator quotes alone can take six weeks. Be mindful of grant deadlines.
  • Apply before it is too late – ORCS grants won’t last forever. Right now, central government sees the value in local authorities choosing locations of charge points. Eventually the market will be allowed to take over, and CPOs are likely to concentrate on hotspots of EV use to maximise revenue, which may compound existing inequalities as early adopters of EVs tend to congregate in affluent areas.

To learn more about getting free support in an ORCS grant application, without any procurement commitments speak to our sales team

Date: 17/11/2021