Maleny is leading the way when it comes to providing electric car (EV) charging stations in Queensland! 

The town now has seven private-sector chargers, which encourages carbon emission reduction, and enhances Maleny’s reputation as an environmentally conscious town.

Supplying chargers also helps maintain Maleny’s status as a leading tourist destination.

Spencer Shaw, Maleny Chamber of Commerce President, said, “Yet again, Maleny delivers the goods when it comes to innovation, with the investment by several local businesses in charging stations for EV’s. 

“Thank you to the businesses who are spearheading this transition to electric vehicles and a solar energy economy. The flow-on effects from this will benefit us all. For one thing, imagine enjoying a coffee at a Maple Street café, without exhaust fumes? 

“The availability of EV charging stations also adds to our development as an innovative business hub on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and beyond.”

Barry Smith, a member of Maleny Forums (a non-political group that facilitates community discussion of local issues), gave us more details on how the charging stations came about: “Local newspaper publisher Michael Berry brought his Mitsubishi i-MiEV to Maleny in 2011. 

“It was the first to be sighted on the Sunshine Coast, and the only EV model on the market at the time. It had a limited range of 160 km and the risk of severe charge depletion on uphill climbs. 

“On one occasion Michael had to be towed home after running out of battery on the steep Landsborough-Maleny ascent!”

Luckily electric cars have become a much more reliable option since then.

Maleny octogenarian Graham Dempster drives a Hyundai KONA Elite, and said, “A recent 600 km round trip to Wide Bay required just two ‘top-up’ charges for a total of $15.” 

Twelve months ago, Graham said he asked himself ,‘What can I, an old bloke, do to address climate change? At least I can drive an electric car’. 

But ‘where to charge’ was an issue. Graham found there were no plans for governments to install chargers in small rural towns, even those promoted as tourist destinations.  

Barry continued the story, “In December 2020 a public meeting of 60 residents, convened by Maleny Forums, took place, to explore community responses to climate change

“This community discussion highlighted how installing EV chargers would hopefully encourage people to switch to zero emission vehicles.”

Maleny Forums called together environmentally-sensitive business operators and community organisations including Rob Outridge (IGA), Peter Pamment (Maple Street Co-op) and Marek and Libby Malter (property lessors), to discuss the potential for installing EV charging stations in Maleny.

“Maleny IGA, Maple Street Co-op and the Malters readily embraced the EV charger idea,” smiled Barry. 

Peter Pamment, manager of the Maple Street Co-op, indicated that the Co-op’s decision to install the town’s first EV charger was a way of making Maleny more attractive to tourists, while providing another service to its 1000 clean-energy-conscious members. 

“A business should reflect the community,” said Rob Outridge, of the Maleny IGA. “If it does, it’s a win-win situation for retailer and customer.” 

The IGA’s two EV chargers are a way of promoting Outridge’s commitment to the community, the environment and customers. 

“Maleny has been very good to us,” said landlords Marek and Libby Malter, who have installed an EV charger at the back of their Maple Street building, “and we wanted to give something back.” 

Maleny’s EV chargers are an object lesson in the art of the possible – even for small rural communities. 

As Barry concluded, “It is a climate action story, a community action story – and a belief in a better future story.”

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