A 78 year old man has been fined $500 for plugging his electric vehicle into a council power box in WA’s Great Southern region.
In a tweet posted this week, WA police said: “It is illegal to use anything other than approved service points to recharge you e-vehicles. A motorist stealing electricity was charged and issued a $500 fine. Hidden CCT footage captured it all.”
The Polestar driver didn’t get the charge they were expecting… pic.twitter.com/c2Xys1vt0K
— ☀️Rob&Rob (@robrobdean) March 8, 2023
In what appears to be a covert operation, police used a hidden camera and diverted resources to catch the non-polluting driver.
There’s a history
Chair of the WA Tesla owners club and AEVA committee member Rob Dean said there’s a history of the police cracking down on illegal charging in the area.
“In 2018 a Tesla Model S driver was about to plug into a council power box but was warned by police not to,” he said.
“The Shire isn’t against EVs, they actually have an EV charger at the council building but there is a sign saying ‘please ask permission’ before using.
Mt Barker Police shared a photo taken from the hidden camera footage on twitter, but the tweet was later deleted.
In another tweet, which was also later deleted, WA police said: “To clarify. If you want to recharge your e-vehicle. DON’T steal the electricity to do so. Police will prosecute in EVERY instance. This recharge cost the vehicle owner a $500 fine, stealing from the Shire. Be better.”
Chair of AEVA Ant Day says that “the council could have been more proactive in providing charing infrastructure or preventing use of the power box in question”
“If they didn’t want people charging of the box they could put a $10 lock box” said Day.
“We advise our EV owners to always ask for permission on any charging point that isn’t on a charging network” he said.
There is a one non-Tesla charging station between Perth and Albany in Kojonup however Day says the PlugShare app has shown that this charging station has been out of action for about a week and a half.
“So without giving the gentleman an excuse there is currently no DC fast charger in operation between Perth and Albany therefore he may have been looking for an alternative.” said Day.
“The power box that the man was using is 3-phase and is therefore three times as fast as the council supplied charge station at the visitor centre” he said “Free charging isn’t needed but people just need access to charging stations paid or otherwise to draw more tourists to the area.”
The social media reaction was mixed with some questioning the severity of the $500 fine saying the the cost of charging would have been much much less but “using electricity without permission is not ok.”
It’s unsure if the driver had been warned by police previously.
Daniel Bleakley is a clean technology researcher and advocate with a background in engineering and business. He has a strong interest in electric vehicles, renewable energy, manufacturing and public policy.