Ireland’s ESB Charging Ports No Longer Free – New Pricing Sparks Abuse Comments From EV Owners

NOV 7 2015 BY JAY COLE 48

The ESB ecars program (state-owned Electricity Supply Board) in Ireland was set up to “lead the charge in rolling out electric car charging infrastructure to support the arrival of mainstream electric cars“, which up until now was a network of free charging stations throughout the nation, helped in part by a lot of government support and also co-funded by the EU TEN-T to develop a cross-border network of rapid charge-points.

Despite only about 600 EV sales in Ireland this year, now that the ESB has built out a 800-unit strong charging network, it has decided that now is the time to leverage that position by announcing an aggressive subscription-based revenue program that ALSO includes additional usage charges for DC quick charging.

SEAI Tweets The 1,000th EV Sold In July- We Imagine It Was A LEAF As Almost 70% Of All Plug-Ins Sold In Ireland Are By Nissan

SEAI Tweets The 1,000th EV Sold In July- We Imagine It Was A LEAF As Almost 70% Of All Plug-Ins Sold In Ireland Are By Nissan

The main problems associated with the new plan are:

A) Ireland still has a very low adoption rate – just this summer the country celebrated hitting the “1,000 plug-ins on the road” mark

B) the new fee structure is “too fast, too soon, too much” in many people’s opinion (comments below)

Details of the new plan, which begin with asking users to sign up to the new program this month, with charges starting in January are (via ESB):

*- monthly fee €16.99 ($18.25 USD) for network usage

*- additional 30 cent per minute usage charge on fast chargers

The 800 stations (including 70 DC quick chargers) will remain free until April, but current users are more than a little miffed at the plan, and now the ESB says that they will have additional programs to disclose in January (that they can’t talk about now – lest a non-existent, alternate charge network uses that information for unknown gains) to give driver’s more usage choices.

Garth Davis, ESG ecars lead says of the changes:

“We’re in the business of having customers and we’re making plans to meet all their needs. This is only the first plan, and we’re only applying it to new customers from January. Existing customers will still have free access until April when the new plans will kick in for them. There will be other payment options, which we’ll be rolling out in January, and they’ll be designed to meet different needs. I can’t give any details on them yet, as it’s commercially sensitive information, but I can say that we want to make the network attractive and that we will be trying to accommodate both heavy users and those who use public charging points maybe only two or three times a year.”

Thanks To A Lot Of Governmental Support ESB Has Built A Network That Could Almost Charge Every EV Owned In Ireland At The Same Time

Thanks To A Lot Of Governmental Support ESB Has Built A Network That Could Almost Charge Every EV Owned In Ireland At The Same Time

Basically in our opinion, with a near monopoly in public EVSEs in place, ESB ecars has decided now to leverage that position of power into a much coveted subscription-based/fee program, and thus lock up the business into the future as more and more EVs arrive.

And if that sign-up doesn’t go so well, with the blowback too strong, ESB can still bring out a new ‘secret plan’ (and more competitive pay as you go program) sometime in January to keep the current, but more importantly the future, EV owners using its machines.

Update:  A new/updated online FAQ seems to suggest it might be April when the new options are revealed, once the free us period expires.

“A product similar to this will also be one of the options that will be made available to all existing ecars customers from April 2016 onwards. At that time we will also be providing a significant service enhancement to customers and are working to develop additional packages. “

With only about 1,000 plug-ins on the road today in Ireland, it is obvious very little revenue/ROI would be netted under this plan, but a precedent would be set in the future.

Some public responses from a recent Facebook thread posted by ESB eCars online:

ESB Fast Charging Station Boosts A Nissan LEAF (of course)

ESB DC Quick Charging Station Boosts A Nissan LEAF (of course)

A monthly fee structure as proposed will incentivise inefficient use of the network as people attempt to get their value for money, blocking charge points unnecessarily. This will significantly slow the adoption of EVs in Ireland. A purely pay as you go system for both standard charge points and fast charge points will result in a much better use of existing infrastructure, and has a much greater support among the EV community in Ireland. Please consider it.” – Conor Kelly

“This Standing Charge is ridiculous. How many Petrol Stations charge people for using their forecourt. I will only pay for the electricity I use as ICE drivers only pay for the petrol/diesel that they use. With your pricing driving an ICE would actually be a better option for me. I have been recommending EVs to many – not anymore.” – Shirley Murray

“I’m for a PAYG system also. I’ve used the network on one occasion since buying a leaf in August this year. I don’t expect to charge away from home more than 4 or 5 times per year and i won’t pay a standing charge to do that. This ill thought out plan is a major disincentive for prospective e-car buyers and is a real kick in the teeth for people who are paying you already via their home chargers. PAYG is the only fair system with a bill pay system for frequent users to opt into.”- Hilary Mc Loughlan

Congrats to ESB ecars… I was deciding with the other half should we get the second EV car for the house and go completely EV… We just decided that we are now going completely ICE as ESB has proven how incompetent and thought less their business plan is regarding the network of chargers , how the price plan should be which is basically is “one plan fits all” … So as I said, congrats on helping us decide.. ICE all the way!! ? … New Audi A5 for me Jan 2016!” – Gerry Guthrie

I think ESB want to kill electric vehicles. It’s not in your interest to have EV’s out there’s. You make no money off us and have to support a charging network which costs you. We are basically a pain in the arse for you and you would rather we were gone so you could get back to the business of destroying our peat bogs, flooding our cities, killing our rivers and destroying the atmosphere. We don’t expect free charging but at these prices it’s more (way more) expensive than petrol. Still a civil service monopoly attitude underneath all the window dressing.” – Ed English

…you get the idea.

To read dozens more similar responses, or to add your own voice, check out the ESB ecars Facebook thread ont he topic here, and on the “expanded FAQ” on the payment structure here.

You can also email your opinions to ESB ecars at

Hat tip to offib!

Categories: Charging


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48 Comments on "Ireland’s ESB Charging Ports No Longer Free – New Pricing Sparks Abuse Comments From EV Owners"

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I don’t like the whole concept of paying a subscription fee each month to use a public charging network, then having to pay for per minute or per kW. Public charging should be like using a gas pump where you pay for how much gas you pump with no monthly subscription fee. If I can pay at a gas pump with a credit card and no monthly subscription fee, then you should be able to do the same at a public charger and get charged per kW, per minute, or a hybrid of the two.

Yes. Cause we live in blue pony tail pink unicorn land.

Everything is for free. Building up 800 charging station cost nothing. Electricity used is actually by product of said unicorn farts…

Seriously. They have good network. Paying from first day, should be obvious thing. They offered freebies.

And now people complain. Sight.

Are you daft in the head? Read the article again and learn how pay attention before making stupid comments. It CLEARLY says it’s not the fact there’s a charge that annoys EV owners in Ireland; it’s the fact the charge is TOO MUCH.

I can understand – and a lot of Irish EV owners can understand – a pay-as-you-go model, but requiring both a subscription AND PAYG? And they are saying it will cost more to charge than it will to buy gasoline.

That’s a GOOD reason to complain, because they’re ripping people off. It’s too soon to be damaging EV uptake by doing this.

Right 19 euro for whole month of driving? Like up to 80 miles a day?

Thats only 30*80 miles for 19euro.

Scum*ags they are, in deed!

So, the fees are in Euro’s, US Dollars, or in British Pounds? *- monthly fee €16.99 ($18.25 USD) *- additional 30 cent per minute usage charge on DC fast chargers What about this idea – simply bill at 8 – 12 Euro cents per minute for up to 25 minutes on the fast chargers, and then it shuts off. If resetting and extending the charge at the same station, then generates the 30 cents per minute charge. As to the Monthly Subscription Fee, it seems it covers all the L2 Charging, but this story as presented, seems to lack details, like – at what rate is the Public L2 supplied at? Is it 12A? 15A? 20A? Or is it at 30A or higher? Are the public L2 Stations in places where you also have to pay for parking? If, for example, the subscription gave you a Member Sticker that got you Free Parking in otherwise paid parking lots, it instantly has more value. If the monthly fee gets you access to HOV lanes in Cities, it has more value! If the fee gave you some firm of charging priority at stations over nonmembers, it has more value! And so on.… Read more »

Regarding your level 2 question, the most I’m sure of are 22kW 3-Phase. Something that Renault didn’t give up on pointing out when advertising the Zoe here.

Although, while still seeing the same unit, I’m suspicious if the same L2 charger in the middle of the sticks would have the same output.

“Up to 80 miles a day” is not valid in your biased calculation. Most people drive much less, and you forgot the fee by minute.

What people forgets – there are prices to pay for becoming early adopters. That’s what this is, for Ireland.

Also remember – gasoline station infrastructure is EXTREMELY expensive and time consuming (for environmental/safety reason), which is why new gasoline stations don’t pop out here and there like Starbucks.

More importantly, gas stations DO NOT get any profit from selling gasoline (or diesel). They sell sodas and chips and whatever in their convenience store to make money. Unless we are starting to have this type of charging stations, these providers will, in essence, make no profit – strike that – lose their money and investment – by just offering free charging or even pay as you go charging (because once you start charging – for money – EV owners will start plugging in more at home rather than “out there”).

I’ve never bought into the lie that petroleum companies do not make money selling gasoline. They make billions every day selling some newspapers and sweets? Yeah right.

There is a difference between the petroleum companies and the gas station. The gas stations are normally only leased and earning money mainly from selling groceries, newspaper and so on. I red they make 0.01 €/liter, which translates to around 0.8% of fuel. For reference: Restaurant have around 250% and even clothing stores make 30%.

The big oil companies selling the gas stations the oil surely make more money than 0.01 €/liter.

The reason why gasoline/petrol retailers make no profit, or almost none, so have to rely on selling soda and potato chips, is that competition is so fierce with gas stations everywhere.

I don’t think most reasonable people expect the utility to offer EV charging for free, forever; or even to do so without making a slight profit. The question here isn’t whether or not they should be able to charge a fee; the question is whether or not that fee amounts to price gouging. I dunno if the monthly subscription fee is really excessive, compared to similar plans from others; but certainly on top of the per-minute usage fee, the combination of fees appears to be excessive.

Price gouging only works if you have a monopoly… and unfortunately, most utilities do have a local monopoly.

HaHa you make ESB sound like crack dealers standing on the corner.

People aren’t complaining about paying a fee, they are complaining about the fee structure. The fast charge rate of 0.30 per minute looks reasonable, but the monthly fee is only reasonable if that is the only way you charge.

They need to make the January option information public now. Hearing.

Well, I never heard of anyone agreeing with the €0.30 per minute. The flat charge is ”fine” (although it would double their running costs), but the former is extreme. €9 for a rapid charge is not great, and actually less economical than a 50mpg petrol or diesel.

It’s a far cry from that €2-per-use-talk I’ve heard some 2 or 3 years ago.

Electric cars are good for everyone, cleaner air, less imported oil and less noise. Something good for everyone deserves at least a partial subsidy.

The charging is not the issue, it’s the ridiculous pricing model. A fast charge alone, for just the electricity is at least €9 / £6.50 ish. Therefore bordering ice petrol/diesel pricing, never mind those prices don’t factor in the monthly fee. Paying the monthly sub fee should make ESB get their finger out repairing and not having to pay a premium rate number to advise that stations aren’t working!

Sounds like the bureaucrats at the ESB conjured up this unhappy little plan in the back of a pub after a long night of hard drinking.

Yea! & I caaan DDrrrriink more than you Laaad…

offib, I don’t (won’t) have FB, so could you provide a comparison to home charging?

how many kW per month for the €17 will equate to the home charge amount.

I saw €9 thrown about as a fill-up, but no mention of what Miles the fill-up produced,
i.e., cost per mile from DCDF at surcharge.


errr.. DCFC, not sure what happened there

A comparison, as in cost? Price per kWh would be between €0.09 and €0.18. All depending on the time of day or night and the initial and final charge of the batter, the cost for a full 24kWh charge in a LEAF would be from €2 to over €4. Of course, most experience it to be less due to solar panels, wind turbines, or charging at home with some % in them. A lot of drivers quote roughly €20 – €25 per month at home. Keeping €0.02/mile in mind, €17 per month should be 850 miles, which is average. But that €17 charge is just a subscription fee. A rapid charge that’s 0-80% is accepted to take 30 mins. That can vary in time due to ambient temperature to internal temperature of the unit or car. Most people would get an extra 50 – 60 miles (80-100km) out of a rapid charge. Given the 30c per minute fee, that would be €9 per charge. Considering that many EV drivers here do long distances (look in the comments or forums), this will look hideously expensive. A lot of them are within the Dublin commuter belt, which to think of it is… Read more »

much thanks, I obviously got that everyone was upset, but without those numbers, it was hard to fully appreciate.

Just for interests sake, (and in case you see this) if you plug in at low SOC and receive the highest charge/C rate, how many miles/km would the slower 10kW in 30m give you if you were trying to stretch to get home.

Also, I presume that at-work charging is not possible in even the far future?

(Ireland is one of our top retirement considerations, fwiw)

Ah, sorry for the delayed response! Well firstly, 10kW charging in 30 mins should get one 5kh in your battery, if your car were capable of charging at 10kw (I think 40amps). Also considering on efficiency, expect 15 to 25 miles added (having a driving efficiency of 3 to 5kWh/mile).

But that’s not possible unless you have a Zoe or Tesla. Those cars can accept up to the 22kW 3-phase L2 chargers here. Excluding rapid charging, pretty much every other EV accepts what it can. This being 3.3kW – 6.6kW charging rates, so fit for the former, that’s 4.96 – 8.25 miles, and double that for the 6.6kW charger if charged for 30 minutes. For the latter rate, having a full charge at home or work in 4 hours is more than enough for many owners.

yep, you mentioned the Zoe earlier (that Should have triggered my remaining neurons), I completely forgot that L2 is NOT going to deliver the charge one might expect from the 22kWh ‘capability’. In the US our source is usually limited, so we don’t feel the limitation as much, 240 3-phase sounded a godsend compared to our typical supply, but makes no difference unless Zoe.

Thanks for your patience!

ESB’s grant money has run out and now they want to make money using whatever way is easiest for them. Easy to add a €16.99 line item to everyone’s electricity bills w/o bothering to find out what will work for existing users.

Thanks for the article Jay Cole.

The ESB own the network and they are not a seller of electricity in Ireland , electricity prices are set by the regulator.

So the only way the company can bill for the service is to charge for use of the service and not the Electricity.

I would pay the 30 cent per min charge without the monthly 17 Euro subscription because I would be a low user of the network and I still save substantial money over petrol or diesel because I charge mainly at home.

I have seen the Leaf take an extra 10 mins in colder weather to charge. So 40 mins from low battery warning to 80% would cost 12 Euro’s for about 50-55 miles. That is a high cost but most people would charge from home most of the time and can sigh up for one months access and cancel when they’re finished.

There needs to be different charges to suit different needs.

“…the only way the company can bill for the service is to charge for use of the service and not the Electricity.”

Yes, but there are a lot of ways ESB could set up the pricing structure. By minute, by kWh consumed, by monthly subscription, or whatever.

It’s human nature that when someone is used to getting something for free, they get upset when you start charging for it. It’s the old saw for leadership: It’s easy to change a “No” to a “Yes”, but people get upset when you change a “Yes” to a “No”.

But in this case, it seems there is a legitimate cause for complaint, because the fee structure is excessive, at least by comparison to similar services elsewhere, and also, apparently, by comparison to gasoline prices.

There are a lot of ways that ESB could change the rate structure so it’s not price gouging. Hopefully they will do so.

$0.30/min charge is about triple what we pay at SoCal for eVgo. Given that Leaf at 80-85% pays equivalent to 15 MPG gas car when gas prices are $2.60/gal, $0.30/kWh would be like driving 5 MPG gas car. If we assume Ireland gas prices are triple ($7.8/gal, or about $2/liter), that’s still 15 MPG gas car. Can you say RIP OFF? what a way to kill EV adoption!

Unfortunately, I can’t link to my blog today, but you can click my name and look for “Love letter to Nissan Leaf DCFC users” to see how I arrived at MPGe$ numbers.

EVgo with no monthly fee is $10 for 30 minutes, about the same as the ESB charge. It’s the high monthly fee combined with the high fee per minute that makes this rate painful.

Perhaps Airtricity or one of the other Eco electricity providers in Ireland could take over the network and implement a sensible usage based pricing model? From a PR point of view it would be great marketing, they would be seen as the EV champions.

Just a thought.

Firstly, (and I don’t understand why Jay Cole persists in this – unless he enjoys simply being irritating) we are talking about RAPID chargers not FAST ones and by which I mean CCS or CHAdeMO DC chargers and 43kW AC ones. FAST chargers are AC ones which do 16 or 32A and anything with less of an output are SLOW chargers. This isn’t just me, its accepted nomenclature in world-wide use that makes it pretty clear what we are all talking about. Mr Cole is in a position of responsibility here and should be helping to remove confusion from the EV debate not be contributing to it! OK?!

Secondly, ESD can do what they like but realistically, when no-one uses them, they will soon adjust their pricing just like has happened with other rapid charger networks in the UK.

One other interesting point that comes out of this is that it would appear that simply providing a half-decent rapid charging network has little or no positive affect on EV uptake. MW

On the alternative, you can do what Tesla does and go into quarterly debt over and over again while dropping in a free network that is scattered around. I know that the charging networks have themselves gone into debt in many countries (US included) and even bankruptcies have happened. Networks themselves don’t cause adoption – it is education and basic math that first needs to be done. Second, people have to believe that it is a solid future not a current fad. Low income people cannot afford new EVs and used ones must be available for under $10K US, $8K Euro.

The best way to go electric in Europe may be the Volt/Ampera but GM did a poor job of delivering those on volume to Europe.

why not use european standard wording for ireland charger?

slow 0 – 0.5 C
normal 0.5 – 1 C
fast 1 – 2 C

but off course if you use this metric the charger can never be described as a fast charger without implying you know the battery size.

Fastned offers their customers three pricing models: 99 euros per month for ‘all you can eat’, 12 euros per month plus 35 cents per kWh, or no subscription and 79 cents per kWh. ESB should do the same.

The point that driving on petrol is cheaper is moot, as most people fast charge only rarely. It is a convenience service to extend the range of your EV.

Going too the loo on a petrol station is not fee either in many cases, and I hear nobody complain that you have to pay for the service that so much cheaper at home.

Ouch – well, Europe is where it is due to all these fees, taxes and government “management”. It’s one reason America “broke free” of all this long ago. Do they allow voting in Europe any more? 🙂

Oh please, Can you say F*ck on tv in your country?

Freedom has many forms. Spare me the naive stereotypes.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that the rapid chargers here (Chademo/CCS) are made up of a few different makes and models with differing firmware across the land.
It’ll be a billing lottery depending on where your commute brings you. All other things being equal you could be spending anywhere from €7.50 to €12.60 for the exact same amount of charge. Just depends on the luck of the draw.

Hardly an equitable way to bill people is it?

Wow. So the utility wants you to pay a monthly “subscription” fee for nothing. That is, even if you don’t use it, you still get charged. Well, there might be some justification for that for a utility hookup to your house; it does cost the utility to maintain the wiring, pipes, etc. But for public EV chargers, there’s no excuse to force people to pay a monthly fee on top of a fee every time they actually use the system.

Now, if this was a typical service, there’s no way it would hold over time. Competition would force them to change their pricing structure, or else they would go out of business. But unfortunately, utilities have a local monopoly, so there’s not likely to be any competition to force them to have reasonable pricing.

In Ireland, the EV revolution just took a giant step backward. 🙁

Ireland is doing very poorly overall in EV sales and support. Maybe it is the government, maybe the average income of the population. But this type of story is another example of how off they are from what other countries are doing to spur adoption. Ireland is years behind the curve.

It seems like no one is dancing the Irish Jig over this decision from the ESB.

Slamming the EV Movement with a sudden, draconian fee increase., even if necessary or justified, hardly seems the best way to promote EV adoption.

All of this goes to show that even well meaning governments cannot always be trusted to do the right thing. The recent decision by Georgia to end state EV subsidies might be a textbook case. Everything seems cool, then all of a sudden, here comes Bubba.

There is nothing stopping any private company installing a charging network in Ireland. Why don’t the likes of Esso, Dunnes, Tesco etc. install chargers on all their sites? The reason they don’t is because it’s expensive and with only 1,000 EVs on the roads they can’t predict when they’ll get a return on their investment. Install a few chargers for hundreds of thousands and then charge users a few cent premium on the energy they use….might take a hundred years. All this talk of state monopoly abusing their position is absolute nonsense.

Esso, I think is just not common enough, and why Esso when Topaz hosts the vast majority of rapid chargers. I’m aware of a few Tescos that offer charging spaces, I know one in Co. Wicklow while I’ve heard of a few in Co. Cork.

Lastly about Dunnes, I couldn’t remember for the life of me of there being a Dunnes supermarket with a carpark outside. I could only think of Dunnes as being apart of a shopping centre, indoors rather than its logo overlooking a carpark.