by Alan Yonan Jr. | Jan. 3, 2023
One of responsibilities that falls to my colleagues and I in the corporate communications department at Hawaiian Electric is writing and distributing news releases announcing new initiatives and programs or other newsworthy info the company wants to share.
When we receive calls or emails after a news release goes out, they’re often from members of the news media who want more information or are looking to interview someone at Hawaiian Electric for a story. But that wasn’t what happened when I sent out a news release in late October announcing the launch of Charge Up Commercial, a Hawaiian Electric pilot program designed to help a wide range of commercial customers reduce the upfront cost of installing electric vehicle charging equipment.
Soon after I hit “send,” I started receiving emails and phone calls, not from the news media, but from condominium associations, shopping malls and other commercial customers wanting to know more about the program. I was happy to refer them the resources on our website or put them in touch with the folks on our Electrification of Transportation (EoT) team who developed the program. But the fact that they were contacting the person whose name was on the news release suggested to me that there was some pretty strong customer interest in the program.
To verify my hunch, I checked in with my coworker Tandy Tabata, an EoT product manager who works on Charge Up Commercial with fellow product manager Ida Taylor. Tandy confirmed the program was attracting a good amount of attention from a variety of commercial customers. In fact, in the two months following its launch in late October, Charge Up Commercial received about 25 applications from customers on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island. She added that about 70% of the applications were complete and are being evaluated.
Hawaiian Electric is still accepting applications for Charge Up Commercial, but you need to be quick — the pilot program is approaching its budget cap of $5 million. In 2023 the program’s focus will be on evaluating and selecting participants, establishing agreements with selected applicants, and beginning the design work for charging stations.
Under the three-year pilot, Hawaiian Electric will pay for and install equipment, including transformers, conduit, and electric panels, to support customer-purchased charging stations. The infrastructure associated with EV charging typically represents a sizeable investment that can be cost prohibitive for some customers. Charge Up Commercial helps bridge that gap by minimizing the cost and complexity of installing charging infrastructure.
Alan Yonan Jr. is a senior communications specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.