Hawaii has long been at the forefront of US EV adoption, so much so that California-based advocate group Plug In America used a $50,000 grant from the state to produce a 48-page guidebook geared to help out novice plug-in drivers. The state is regarded as an optimal breeding ground for EV adoption because of its combination of high gas prices and geographically constrained driving distances. Range anxiety gets no aloha.
As of May, there were about 1,400 plug-in vehicles registered in the Aloha State. Meanwhile, as of late last month, there were about 125 publicly accessible charging stations, or about one per every 4,000 registered light-duty vehicles (any powertrain) in the state. By comparison, the US had about 6,300 publicly accessible stations, or about one per 20,000 registered US vehicles, according to US Department of Energy figures. Read HECO's press release below.
First-in-the-nation rates to ease 'range anxiety' with more public charge spots
(Honolulu, Hawaii) – The Hawaiian Electric Companies have gained approval from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission for two new electric vehicle (EV) pilot charging rates. The rates are designed to encourage ownership of plug-in electric vehicles in Hawaii by easing "range anxiety."
The new Commercial Public Electric Vehicle Charging Facility Service rate (Schedule EV-F) will make it financially attractive for business customers to open new public EV charging facilities metered separately from other uses.
Businesses can now take advantage of EV time-of-use rates without a "demand charge" typically assessed to commercial customers. This new rate will encourage businesses to provide direct current (DC) fast charging, which delivers a quicker charge but at a higher demand. A DC fast charging station can bring an "empty" EV battery to an 80 percent charge in about 30 minutes. (Demand charge represents the electric utility's cost to maintain the capacity to meet a commercial customer's highest demand for a fixed period.)
The second new rate, Commercial Public Electric Vehicle Charging Service (Schedule EV-U), allows the Hawaiian Electric Companies to operate up to 25 publicly accessible DC fast charging facilities across Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii Island where drivers could quickly recharge their vehicles for a per-session fee. It also allows the Hawaiian Electric utilities to work with the EV industry to manage electric vehicle EV charging more effectively and do research on load control and demand response.
"Plug-in electric vehicles continue to increase and we want to make it easier for our customers to own and use them," said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service. "While most electric vehicle owners will continue to charge overnight at home, more charge spots across the islands will provide assurance to EV drivers that they won't 'run out of juice' while away from home."
Increased use of EVs can reduce Hawaii's dependency on imported oil and encourage use of electricity from indigenous renewable resources, such as wind and solar. Fueling a vehicle with electricity, even from conventional generation, is cleaner and costs the customer less per mile than using gasoline in an internal combustion engine.
"The Hawaii State Energy Office supports widespread deployment of EV DC fast charging infrastructure, which will help promote EV adoption and ease range anxiety," said State Energy Administrator Mark Glick. "These new EV rates are a novel approach in dealing with demand charges and a positive step in meeting the state's clean energy objectives and in proving Hawaii as a leader of EV deployment in the Asia-Pacific region."
Hawaiian Electric Companies worked with the Hawaii State Energy Office, Hawaii Consumer Advocate, and OpConnect LLC to develop the new tariffs.
According to the state's Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, as of May 2013, there were a total of 1,437 plug-in electric vehicles registered in the state (Oahu – 1,093; Maui - 210; Hawaii Island – 90).
More information on electric vehicle ownership is available from Hawaiian Electric at hawaiianelectric.com/goev or by calling 808-543-GOEV (4638). For information on the State Energy Office's EV program, visit electricvehicle.hawaii.gov.