Power Trip

Orion is on a journey to cut green-house emissions – and they are taking the region’s businesses along for the ride.

Orion owns and operates the electricity distribution network that provides power to central Canterbury. More than thirty percent of Orion’s passenger vehicle fleet is already electric, and they are encouraging the Canterbury business community to think sustainably and convert to electric vehicles (EVs) by taking part in a free one-week EV experience.

The Orion EV Experience is a partnership between Orion and The Chamber, with support from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) Low Emission Vehicle Fund. Chamber members can sign up for the experience, which has proved so popular that the two Hyundai Kona vehicles are already booked into 2020. The initiative is expected to run for two years.

General Manager Paul Deavoll says finding more sustainable transport methods is a significant way local business can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while saving on petrol and road costs.

“Currently over 50 percent of Christchurch’s carbon emissions come from transportation. If a business wants to take a positive sustainability step to help the region meet its emissions targets, converting their fleet to electric vehicles is an easy way to do that cost effectively. 85 percent of our electricity is renewable so EVs here in New Zealand are very sustainable.”

Current electric vehicles on the market have a range of between 130km and 450km. Orion has invested in encouraging the uptake of EVs by installing vehicle chargers across the region to address driver ‘range anxiety’ – a term used to describe the anxiety some drivers can experience when their car has a low charge and they are away from a plug-in source.
“We know people can get worried when driving an EV that they are going to run out of charge. This installed network of chargers goes a long way in reducing this fear and opens up the region significantly for the use of EVs. “The chargers mean businesses aren’t restricted to only using the vehicles around Christchurch city. They can drive across the region and be confident they can re-charge the vehicle when necessary, all the while helping lower carbon emissions and still meeting their own business’ economic objectives,” Paul says. He says taking part in the initiative gives businesses a chance to assess the benefits of switching to EVs before having to make a firm commitment or monetary investment.

From a total cost of ownership perspective, EVs are forecast to become cheaper than petrol or diesel vehicles within the next few years and the scheme can help businesses consider how they could implement a conversion from a traditional fossil fuel fleet.

Paul says Orion’s own electric fleet will continue to grow as more of the specialised vehicles required by the company come onto the market. 
“We’re converting our fleet and trying to help other Canterbury businesses consider changing to EVs, because we want to make our region more liveable. Together, we can make a difference.”