WELLINGTON Shire's first public fast electric charger has been installed at the Port of Sale, and will be offering free charging for a honeymoon period until June.
The new superfast electric vehicle charger was officially opened by Wellington Shire mayor Garry Stephens on Wednesday, at a launch that included a display of more than a dozen electric vehicles, free half hour tours on the Rubeena, which became the first all-electric boat in Australia when its new motor was installed in 1993, and a film.
Part of Victoria's Charging the Region's Project, the 50 kilowatt DC charger will form part of a network of more than 20 chargers being rolled out across central and western Victoria.
It was bought by Wellington Shire Council with help from the Central Victoria Greenhouse Alliance, a network of 13 local governments working together across central and northern Victoria.
Cr Stephens said the council was helping to support the uptake of electric vehicles and attracting visitors with electric vehicles who wanted to come to the region.
He said there were also plans to install an electric charging facility in Yarram.
"Council is trying to lead the way in renewable power, along with other things we've done of course, which includes introducing green power for The Wedge and our Desailly St corporate offices," Cr Stephens said.
"There is still some distance to travel, but we are making a positive move toward renewable energy right across the shire."
Cr Stephens said the charging station was ideally sited in the Port of Sale carpark, near the visitor centre.
"While their car is charging for an hour or so, electric vehicle owners are coming into the centre and discovering places to see and things to do right across our region," he said.
"Bringing electric vehicle drivers to our shire means more jobs in the hospitality, accommodation and tourism sectors.
"We power their cars - they help power our economy."
Gippsland Climate Change Network chairman and former Wellington Shire councillor Darren McCubbin praised the council's sustainability strategy, saying it was "wonderful" to see it embrace sustainability and move ahead with it.
The fast electric vehicle charger will charge most cars in just over an hour, however a "glitch"in the system allows anyone to unplug the charger from a vehicle.
The problem was highlighted by a visitor from Traralgon who complained to the Gippsland Times and to the Central Victoria Greenhouse Alliance that somebody had unexpectedly unplugged his vehicle when charging it at the Port of Sale - despite it not being fully charged.
Mike Moulton said he had connected his car to the charge point and had gone to a nearby restaurant to enjoy a meal when he received a phone message which alerted him his Nissan Leaf had been disconnected.
He said he was "appalled" this could happen, and said it was not possible to disconnect someone else's vehicle at other charge stations he had used.
Mr Moulton confronted a man who had unplugged his vehicle. He told him he had disconnected it because it was at 98 per cent charge and he wanted to connect his own car.
"If he'd waited another 15 minutes the car would have been finished," he said.
"Two per cent charge might not seem much, but that could give you another 10 or 20 kilometres.
"It's a design fault that should not be allowed - a kid could disconnect it," he said.
But a Central Victoria Greenhouse Alliance spokesman said the inability of the charger to 'lock' cars in was not a design fault, as not all chargers had that feature.
But, he said all account holders could use their account card when charging, which was then required to remove the charger.
Launch participant Kevin Yank, who had his Tesla Model 3 on display, bought his first electric car three weeks ago because he wanted to "take the step forward".
"It made sense, it's the green choice of the future," he said.
After June, it will cost 40 cents per kilowatt to charge at the Port of Sale.
Sale's first electric vehicle charging station was installed at the Criterion Hotel in 2017.