Public can influence how Hawaii’s EV expansion unfolds

by Aki Marceau | Sept. 5, 2021

This article was originally published in Star-Advertiser on Aug. 31, 2021.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently issued a reminder that our planet is warming at an alarming rate, which will cause catastrophic disaster if we don’t change course. If we think COVID-19 is scary, the impacts on our community when the Earth warms above 1.5 degrees Celsius will be much worse.

One of the causes of global warming is carbon emissions from transportation. In Hawaii, ground transportation is responsible for roughly 20% carbon emissions, so switching to clean, zero-emission forms of transportation, like electric cars, electric buses, walking and biking, can slow the warming.

Change doesn’t have to be difficult — electric vehicles can enhance our lives. They offer superior performance, ride quieter, and you can fuel at work, home or at the mall. And with Hawaii exceeding its renewable energy targets, you can rest easy knowing that your trips are increasingly powered by the sun and the wind.

Hawaii is fortunate to have progressive policies and the broad-based community support needed to grow the market for electric vehicles. Groups like Drive Electric Hawaii, a coalition of private, government and nonprofit stakeholders, provide vital EV advocacy as Hawaii pursues its clean transportation goals. The state’s two electric utilities, Hawaiian Electric and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, are members of Drive Electric Hawaii.

A lot of heavy lifting is ahead as Hawaii strives to meet its decarbonization goals for ground transportation. Electrifying transportation will require many sectors working together — and it must be done in a way that delivers the benefits of decarbonization equitably to all households and businesses. Electric utilities are uniquely positioned to lead in this transition, both as grid operators and through established relationships with their customers. We can provide the education and tools and solutions our customers need to support their clean transportation goals. From passenger EVs to electric buses, trucks and other heavy equipment, a range of programs is being developed to assist customers in all market segments.

Electric utilities will play a key role in ensuring the grid can support EV charging infrastructure. The transition to clean transportation in Hawaii shares a close nexus with renewable generation. Since 2014 Hawaiian Electric has steadily expanded its role in EV charging infrastructure development, with the support of the Public Utilities Commission, to establish pilot public charging resources for early adopters of electrified transportation. We work with drivers, auto dealerships, building managers, employers and fleet managers to provide the latest information on charging options and infrastructure.

We also own and operate a network of public chargers aimed at serving a critical backbone of charging needs. As the company expands its charging infrastructure, we want to make sure we are placing chargers in the best locations to serve your needs. If you own an electric car, plan to lease or buy one in the coming years, or work for or own a business that uses electric cars, tell us where you want to charge. Please share your manao as we work to strategically place these chargers to maximize their benefit.

Hawaiian Electric just launched Charge Up Hawaii, an interactive webpage to provide information and gather community input. We’re asking folks to take a short survey that will help us understand their mobility needs. We’ve also included an interactive map, allowing you to drop a pin at locations so we can see where you think a new EV charging station is needed in your community. We encourage you to participate. It will take all of us pulling together to carry out Hawaii’s clean energy transformation.

Aki Marceau is director of electrification of transportation at Hawaiian Electric.

Our vision is to deliver cost-effective, clean, reliable, and innovative energy services to our customers.