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Electric vehicles join UK Power Networks fleet

UK Power Networks has bought three new Peugeot iOns to join its extensive fleet of cars and vans which are regularly seen on the roads across London, the South East and the East of England en route to power cuts, upgrades or new connections projects.
From press releases - 16 November 2012 09:00 AM

Electric vehicles join electricity firm’s fleet

Britain’s largest electricity distributor is using electric vehicles for the first time in its work to keep the lights shining for millions of customers.

UK Power Networks has bought three new Peugeot iOns to join its extensive fleet of cars and vans which are regularly seen on the roads across London, the South East and the East of England en route to power cuts, upgrades or new connections projects.

The electric vehicles (EVs) will be driven in London and Kent by engineers and technical staff working on connections, maintenance, upgrades and Low Carbon London business. They have a range of 93 miles and the company has installed specialist charging infrastructure at its offices in Canning Town, Elephant and Castle, Maidstone, Dartford and Eltham to cater for them.

Rapid charging points will achieve an 80 per cent charge in 30 minutes, while it would take seven hours to charge the vehicles from a normal domestic electricity supply. For each mile driven, the Peugeot iOn releases no carbon dioxide emissions at the point of use so it is exempt from road tax and the congestion charge. The environmental benefits are further enhanced as electricity generation is decarbonised. With some 22 per cent of carbon emissions coming from transport in London, EVs could make a significant dent in emissions as Britain shifts to a low carbon economy.

The new cars will automatically become part of UK Power Networks’ Low Carbon London electric vehicle trials, which are studying the habits of London’s EV drivers. The research will help determine the most cost-efficient way for electricity distributors to meet demand from a rapid sudden growth in electric cars to ultimately inform system development and reduce costs to customers. Currently, the trials are monitoring 51 commercial charge points, 720 publicly-accessible charging points and 31 residential charge points, which will increase over the coming months.

Liam O’Sullivan, Low Carbon London programme director, said: “If a green, low carbon revolution is heading for Britain’s roads it will have an equally revolutionary impact on our electricity networks. We are the architects of the electricity network that will be needed decades into the future so we need to understand the impact EVs will have on the electricity system of tomorrow and plan for it now.

“We felt it was time to look no further than our own back yard at an alternative way to potentially power our fleet into the future. We’re taking a small but symbolic step in the drive towards an electric future.”

Using electric vehicles for the first time also fits in with the company’s aim to be innovative and sustainable, without compromising efficiency. The company’s fleet manager will be watching the trial closely to see how using electric vehicles might reduce fleet running costs in the future. Electric cars currently cost more to buy but are cheap to run at about 2p per mile, compared with around 14p per mile for a similar-sized petrol or diesel car. UK Power Networks already has 75 Toyota Prius hybrid electric cars, plus about 1,100 mainly diesel vehicles.

Chris Pascall, head of transport at UK Power Networks, said: “Considering that we spend £6million on fuel each year, it’s a key priority for us to reduce the costs of running our fleet. We constantly monitor the market to ensure a good understanding of what low carbon vehicles are available and up till now the upfront cost has been the biggest blocker to operating EVs.

“We have estimated that the Whole Life Cost (WLC) of the iOn will be no more than an equivalent small diesel car. We see our new EVs as a long-term investment in understanding the technology and seeing how it performs. These are still relatively new technologies so we will be taking into account the original outlay, battery life, range and other issues as we increase our understanding of what the market has to offer and how it can help us in the future.”

The new EVs have been decorated in livery using a more sustainable alternative to the most commonly-used plastic film. It is the first time the company has used the new product, designed to save water, energy, carbon emissions and waste.

To join the Low Carbon London electric vehicle trials, ring 0800 859 5378, write to the team at lowcarbonlondon@ukpowernetworks.co.uk or visit www.lowcarbonlondon.info

Ends

Picture caption: Key to the future? Head of transport Chris Pascall hands the keys to UK Power Networks’ three new EVs to Michael Clark, Low Carbon London trials manager.

For further information please contact Niamh Arnett, in the UK Power Networks press office, on 0845 302 7292.

Notes to editors: 
1. UK Power Networks distributes power to a quarter of Britain’s population through its electricity networks serving London, the South East and the East of England. The company's 5,000 employees are dedicated to delivering a safe, secure electricity supply to about eight million homes and businesses via its networks of substations, overhead lines and underground cables. 
UK Power Networks distributed the electricity at many venues for this summer’s international sporting events. This year we are investing £360million in our electricity networks and around £1.8billion in the five years to 2015. We are also undertaking trials to ensure our electricity networks support the transition to a low carbon future.
Customers pay their bills to supply companies but UK Power Networks delivers the power across our three areas. The industry regulator Ofgem sets an allowed revenue to distribution companies so that they can maintain safe and reliable electricity supplies. If customers are unfortunate enough to be affected by a power cut or have another issue with the electricity supply to their property, they should contact UK Power Networks. 
www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk

2. Low Carbon London, led by UK Power Networks, is a £30million pioneering learning programme funded by customers through Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund and the electricity network operator. Its aim is to use London as a test bed to develop a smarter electricity network that can manage the demands of a low carbon economy and deliver reliable, sustainable low carbon electricity to businesses, residents and communities. The programme will explore how to combine new technology and commercial innovation – such as localised generation, electric vehicles, heat pumps, smart meters, time of use tariffs and responsive demand services – to support a low carbon energy economy. UK Power Networks’ partners on the Low Carbon London programme are Siemens, Logica, EDF Energy, Greater London Authority, Transport for London, National Grid, Institute for Sustainability, Flexitricity, EnerNOC, Smarter Grid Solutions and Imperial College London. More information on Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund is available here:http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Networks/ElecDist/lcnf/Pages/lcnf.aspx