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Owners of electric vehicles (EVs) will “definitely” begin paying for public charging later this year – but those who abuse the system by overstaying at charge points face a “hogging” penalty.

A pay-as-you-go system, based on energy used rather than time spent at a public charger, is one method of payment being considered.

Drivers will also be able to sign up for a subscription-based system where a small monthly fee will entitle them to reduced rates.

Payment will be on a phased basis from later this year. It will start with fast chargers and subsequently apply to all public charge points, though exact pricing has yet to be decided.

News of pricing options and the “hogging” penalty emerge in a Q&A by the Irish Independent with ESB Ecars, the company that operates and maintains the national charging network.

Its research shows a major source of dissatisfaction with the system arises when chargers are in high demand or not available.

Some of the blame for that is targeted at drivers who leave their cars far too long. To deter them, an “over-stay fee” is being considered so drivers who need their batteries charged are not deprived or delayed.

It is understood, separately, the push to charge for public charging has been speeded up significantly in recent times, with sources insisting pricing will definitely kick in this year.

That is well behind the schedule announced last year, though it means owners will have enjoyed free public charging for much longer than expected.

How users will react remains to be seen but it is sure to draw criticism from those unhappy with the continuing quality of service in some areas. Currently owners can use a charge-point access card at almost 1,100 public charge points for free – though parking fees can apply.

Details of what exactly public charging will cost are still being worked out.

ESB Ecars’ research suggests more than 80pc of ordinary charging will be carried out at home – provided it is feasible to install a charge point. Home charging can cost as little as €2 if discounted night rate electricity is used.

The Irish Independent was told: “We are continuing to liaise with all stakeholders, including EV owners, on the introduction of pricing plans and we expect to announce these plans later in the year.”

ESB Ecars also admitted it is having difficulty finding parts for old and antiquated elements of the charge network.

Yet it also highlights how some of the planned multi-vehicle-charging ‘super hubs’ will be so large they will have the power requirements of 100 houses.

Many of these sites will require the addition of significant electrical infrastructure.

Parts of the existing network, now nearly a decade old, are creaking.

They are in urgent need of a planned and “significant upgrade plan” for the AC charge points. A large portion of standard AC chargers will be replaced as outlined in the Government’s Climate Action Plan.

ESB Ecars said the technology used in the original pilot project is now so old that sourcing essential components is posing difficulty

“This is particularly the case for the AC charge point network,” the company said.

It is “confident” upgrade work will start next year.

As already announced, ESB Ecars is working on replacing the older fast-charging models with new multi-standard models.

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