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Tony de Farias, Chairman of the Horizon Energy Group, said the electric vehicle fast charging station had been made possible with the support of the Eastern Bay Energy Trust and Whakatāne District Council. “We see the new charging station as not only putting Whakatāne on the New Zealand electric vehicle map,” he says, “but also promoting the use of electric vehicles (which benefits the environment) and encouraging those with electric vehicles to visit the District.”

“This initial installation is part of a wider plan to install fast chargers in key locations around the Eastern Bay of Plenty in the near future. The Eastern Bay Energy Trust is supportive of the investment in new technology and is delighted to see this initiative aligning Whakatāne with bigger cities like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch’s investment in sustainable infrastructure,” he said.

Eastern Bay Energy Trust Acting Chairman David Bulley acknowledged that there will be a rapid growth in electric vehicles in New Zealand. “In the Eastern Bay, we need to be positioned to both support this growth and take advantage of the business and tourism opportunities that will follow and the Trust is delighted to be able to support this initiative.”

New Zealand is well placed to benefit from electric vehicles and the Government has shown its commitment to supporting initiatives that encourage the uptake of electric vehicles through the Low Emissions Vehicles Contestable Fund. The fund will provide up to $6 million per year (up to $4 million in 2016/17) to co-fund, up to 50%, projects with private and public sector partners in areas where commercial returns aren’t strong enough yet to justify full private investment.

Mayor Tony Bonne has welcomed the investment in the District’s electric vehicle infrastructure and says it effectively signals the beginning of the move away from fossil-fuel powered transport in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. “Council elected members are strongly supportive of this initiative, which will facilitate both electric vehicle-based tourism and local use, and we congratulate the Eastern Bay Energy Trust and Horizon Energy for their vision and leadership in this exciting new field.”

The charging station is located near the Visitor Information Centre on Quay Street and offers good public access by way of parking. Users of this fast charging station can enjoy the nearby shops and cafes while charging is taking place. As an introductory offer, all electric vehicle charging will be free of charge until 31 May 2017.