Amid EV boom, Hawaii has a new problem: Not enough charging stations

Across the state, there are about 1 million registered passenger vehicles. About 19,000 of them are electric vehicles.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 6:04 AM HST|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 12:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Across the state, there are about 1 million registered passenger vehicles. About 19,000 of them are electric vehicles.

But good luck finding an open charging port.

The U.S. Department of Energy says there are only about 800 public chargers in the state. The lack of public charging options is causing some people to rethink their plans to go electric.

“Now that gas prices are going up so much more, I’m really reconsidering this choice and looking at potentially, you know, revisiting my decision,” said Daniela Spoto, who was recently looking at Nissan Leafs but ultimately decided it wasn’t the right time.

“I think one of the things that’s been kind of scary that’s coming up recently is talking to my friends who have EVs and just hearing the struggles that they’re having, finding places to go charge them,” Spoto said.

“I guess I’m a little bit scared of ending up somewhere and you know, if it was a, a gas vehicle, I could just go drop into the gas station and fill it up. But if I’m running out somewhere where there’s no place to charge it and all of the charging stations are full, then I would hate to be stranded.”

Spoto isn’t alone in her hesitation to switch to electric. It’s a difficult move to make, especially if you live in a condo or an apartment complex where the technology just isn’t there.

State lawmakers, the Hawaii Department of Transportation and even the state’s Energy Office agree that we need to do more, especially if Hawaii is to meet its bold energy agenda to achieve 100% clean energy by the year 2045.

Despite the shortage of charging stations, people are still making the transition. A report from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism shows a nearly 35% increase in electric vehicles across the state.

So what’s being done to support those drivers and make sure they have the charging stations they need to confidently drive an electric vehicle? More importantly, what are we doing at the state and federal level to encourage more people to make the change?

“The policies that are in place right now from the state and local level are doing a pretty good job of setting the tone for the charging infrastructure that’s necessary. But definitely, when you think of our aggressive 2045 energy goals, we are nowhere near we where we need to be,” said Ed Sniffen, Hawaii Department of Transportation’s deputy director for highways.

The state DOT says it’s working to do its part internally. The department is electrifying as much of its fleet as possible and has converted about 47 vehicles so far with some 300 more light duty vehicles that will be electric over the next two years.

“So the great thing is legislature is getting involved to ensure that we there’s more funding moving towards that federal government is providing a bunch of money to ensure that all states can move forward very, very quickly on, on electrification,” Sniffen added.

State lawmakers passed a number of bills to expand the current infrastructure for electric vehicle charging and $18 million in federal funding has also been set aside for Hawaii to achieve the same goal.

State Sen. Chris Lee says we need to ramp up public private partnerships to make real change.

“We are working with the private sector and other stakeholders to further expand public access in places like malls and condos. The bottom line is that electric vehicles reduce the cost of transportation for local families, so expanding access to more people will lower the cost of living,” Lee said.

Among the legislation passed to reach Hawaii’s energy goals are a number of incentives like rebates for private businesses to add more public access charging stations.

You can learn more about the effort to reach zero emissions by 2045 by clicking here.

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