Evergo bullish on target despite installation hurdles
Wayne Mckenzie, president and CEO of Evergo, dialogues with Donald and Karlene Fung, during a EV Link-up event held on September 10, 2022 at Chukka Cove and Cliffs in LLandovery, St Ann, in commemoration of World EV Day, observed internationally on September 9 (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

Amid some installation challenges threatening to slow the delivery of its target to have about 300 charging stations across the island by next year, EV Power Jamaica Limited (Evergo) remains steadfast that this objective will be achieved.

President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Wayne McKenzie said the challenge which mostly surrounds the installation of its level 3 or faster chargers needed to service full electric vehicles (EV) has been costing the company significant amounts which could slow down the projected timeline. This, as the company is forced to build out its own infrastructure before it can proceed with installation activities.

"We have to purchase the transformers from the Jamaica Public Service [JPS] and the installation alone is costing us over $1.5 million," he told the Jamaica Observer during an EV link-up event held by his company last weekend.

"We are now being told that the grid cannot support the installation of the level 3 chargers and that has been slowing down our progress as we have to secure the hardware from JPS to do it. Therefore it's no longer about installation timelines but procuring the necessary equipment, as we have to buy transformers, lines and poles before installation can be done," he said to the Business Observer, noting, however, that if the target was not delivered by the end of 2023, it would not surpass early 2024.

With JPS holding an exclusive right to distribute energy in the country as per the terms of its operating licence under the current electricity act, Mckenzie said the unfairness of is exclusivity clause thwarts the company's ability to power its stations from the generation of independent renewable energy.

"I have six locations that are now awaiting level 3 chargers and not only are the hardware not here, but the cost is prohibitive, we're talking anywhere between $1.4-$3.6 million to get the hardware in to do it, otherwise this would have just been about the cost of the chargers and about 30 per cent of the construction and installation," he reasoned, noting also the difficulty to recover cost and in reasonable time due to the low number of EVs now on the roads locally.

Having already installed some 60 charging station at different areas across several parishes, with another 44 now scheduled for immediate put down and the remaining amount to be rolled out by year end into next year, Evergo through the installation of its levels 1-3 chargers wants to establish a sufficient quantum of options for EV users, removing 'range anxiety' and providing them with access to service irrespective of varied models and distance needs.

At present eLvel 1 chargers generate up to 110 voltage and can charge up to 5 kilowatt (kW) while level 2 chargers offer 220 voltage and offer between 7-19 kW. Level 3 chargers, on the other hand, ranges between 25-150 kW, though the ones used locally normally charge up to 50 kW. Depending on the type of EV, a level 3 station can charge a vehicle in 120 minutes or just about one and a half hours, while the level 2 provides full charge within three hours.

Currently working with over 20 partners including gas stations, hotels, restaurants, apartment/residencies, commercial complexes and other outlets, Evergo's boss said the aim is to have a properly built out infrastructure to service the industry despite not yet having the adequate number of EVs to utilise the available chargers.

With government reducing the duty on importation of some EVs and expecting to table an EV policy soon along with more dealers including them among their line-up, Mckenzie expressed increased optimism for future growth of the industry.

"People are now recognising that EV is no longer a case of if, but it is coming…Jamaica is on the path where e-mobility is recognised as one of the big contributors to decarbonisation and in putting down these chargers, we are also encouraging government policy that supports the procurement of EVs. When using our charging stations the charge per gallon is about 30 per cent cheaper than buying gas and we will be partnering with more outlets to help us cover the footprint of the country," Mckenzie said.

An EV being charged at an Evergo charging station in St Ann (Photo: Karl Mclarty)
Kellaray Miles

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