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Electric vehicles are all over Hawaii roads. So why aren’t there more charging stations?

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 4:24 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2021 at 4:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the past year, there was a nearly 32% increase in the number of passenger electric vehicles in Hawaii, according to the state.

But there’s a big disconnect when it comes to charging those vehicles up.

“We have the second-highest electric vehicles per capita,” said Aki Marceau, Hawaiian Electric’s director of Electrification of Transportation.

“However, when you’re looking at charging ports per electric vehicle, we’re the lowest in the country.”

According to the Department of Energy, there are 363 public electric charging stations and 742 ports.

Electric vehicle advocates say that isn’t enough.

“I definitely think that the adoption of EVs is starting to outpace the charging infrastructure,” said Kianiwai Jones, the clean mobility director at the Blue Planet Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to advancing Hawaii’s mission to achieve 100% clean energy by 2045.

Jones said ground transportation accounts for nearly two-thirds of Hawaii’s petroleum, and electric cars will play a key role in achieving clean energy.

She said public charging is especially important for those living in apartments and condos who might not have an easy charge.

State lawmakers have adopted requirements to push the state to be more EV-friendly.

In Honolulu, new buildings must have EV-ready features. Hawaiian Electric offers charger rebate programs, and parking lots with more than 100 stalls need to have electric chargers.

“Funding is a big part of it,” said Jones. “Especially when you’re retrofitting older buildings, it’s very expensive. A lot of these buildings just don’t have electrical capacity built-in to easily add the charging. So that’s a big big factor. Parking, availability, things like that.”

“There is a lot of challenges to deploying charging in Hawaii,” said Marceau. “It’s at times more expensive to construct and to deploy infrastructure here.”

But Marceau is hopeful for the future.

She said Hawaiian Electric has about 25 public charging sites.

But recently, the company filed a proposal to the Public Utilities Commission to expand their charging pilot program and allow for 150 public fast chargers and 150 Dual Port Level 2 chargers throughout their service territory.

There are also at least $18 million coming from Biden’s infrastructure bill specifically for electric vehicle infrastructure.

“It’s something that really needs to improve as we start to see more and more EVs on the road,” said Jones. “And there’s a number of initiatives that are currently underway to address that.”

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