There may soon be more places for drivers to charge their electric vehicles in the Illawarra, with the NSW government announcing a $171 million grant for 3500 charging stations.
Wineries, hotels, cafes and restaurants, information centres and natural attractions in Kiama, Shellharbour and the Shoalhaven will be able to apply for the grant of between $2000 to $40,000 per site, as the NSW seeks to boost the uptake of electric vehicles to 52 per cent of all car sales by 2030-31.
Owner of Berry winery Silos Estate, Rajarshi Ray said his business installed chargers for electric vehicles in 2007 and has seen how the technology has attracted visitors.
"Initially we only used to get one vehicle a month, and now we get 600-800 a month, 20 or 30 a day," he said.
As both a tourism operator and farmer, Mr Ray said climate change was an immediate concern and this motivated him and the business to install the chargers well before electric vehicles were widely in use.
"We wanted to be part of the solution," he said. "Our actions alone aren't going to change the world but tens of thousands of people doing that will create change."
While Mr Ray will not be able to take part in the latest grant, as locations that already have a charger are not eligible, the program aims to build on the work of early adopters such as Mr Ray and drive down the barriers to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.
Range anxiety, the fear that an electric vehicle will run out of charge on the road, is one of the top three barriers to uptake of electric vehicles and the NSW Electric Vehicle Strategy seeks to overcome this by installing a wide network of fast chargers on roads throughout NSW.
An added benefit of having a local fast charger is the economic spin off generated by drivers stopping and recharging their vehicle. Mr Ray said about a third of the users of the chargers at Silos are customers, with the rest made up of locals and those who are happy to sit and wait while their vehicle is charged.
"All of them get to know Silos, and that's a good thing."
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said the grant program will encourage visitation to regional areas.
"EVs are growing in popularity and this will help ensure our regional areas have the charging stations needed to welcome EV-driving visitors," he said.
Mr Ray said he hoped the encouragement of electric vehicles could be part of wider efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
"Decarbonisation is going to offer enormous opportunities to individuals and businesses and Australia has had a long and rich history of being innovators and leaders in this field. It's going to be another piece in that puzzle."
Businesses can apply for up to 75 per cent of the cost of purchasing and installing the chargers and 50 per cent of a two year charger software subscription.
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