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Maui Electric Proposes Operation to Run EV Fast-Charging Network

Maui Electric photo.

In partnership with the County of Maui, Maui Economic Development Board, Ulupono Initiative, Blue Planet Foundation and Hitachi, Maui Electric, proposed on Friday to assume ownership and operation of the existing electric vehicle fast-charging network established on Maui through the JUMPSmartMaui demonstration project. With the high rate of EV adoption on Maui, maintaining a publicly available fast-charging network helps to reduce range anxiety, provides charging options for EV drivers who do not have the ability to install personal charging infrastructure, and encourages more residents to benefit from EVs.

“With the support of the County and our community partners, we are able to work towards reducing our state’s dependence on imported fossil fuel for electricity as well as transportation through this endeavor,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of Maui Electric. “By 2045, we envision most personal, light-duty vehicles in Hawai‘i to be powered by electricity generated by solar, wind, biofuels, geothermal and other renewable resources. Supporting and maintaining EV charging infrastructure, like the one currently established on Maui, is a critical component to helping accelerate electrification of transportation efforts.”

If approved by the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission, Maui Electric would maintain the publicly available EV charging infrastructure at 8 existing sites on Maui. The current sites were selected due to the high use and strategic location to provide the largest number of EV owners with the widest driving range and public access to fast chargers.

MEDB currently owns the existing fast charging network that supports more than 300 of the approximately 1,000 EV owners on the island through its EVohana membership program. Some of these members are dependent on the current charging infrastructure because they live in condominiums and rental units that do not provide this service. The robust network of fast charging stations was established through the JUMPSmartMaui demonstration project – a cooperative venture between Japan, the State of Hawai‘i, County of Maui, MEDB, Hitachi and Maui Electric. The project operated from 2011 to 2017 to exhibit smart grid technologies that could enable the efficient use of renewable energy in an island setting.

At the conclusion of the project, ownership of the charging assets was transferred to MEDB to continue supporting Maui’s EV owners with public fast charging options. MEDB partnered with Hitachi to create a new program EVohana, with Hitachi continuing to operate and maintain the assets until March 31, 2019. The County of Maui, MEDB, Ulupono Initiative, and Blue Planet Foundation, then formed a community consortium to work on a new long-term model with Maui Electric Company. Without a new owner and operator, the charging infrastructure and program would be discontinued. The community consortium agreed that having Maui Electric sustain the EV fast-charging network would be most beneficial to current and future users as well as play an imperative role in getting Maui to its 100 percent renewable future.

“I would like to thank Hitachi, MEDB, Maui Electric, Ulupono Initiative, and Blue Planet Foundation for working with us to find a solution for our community,” said Mayor Alan Arakawa.

“Electric Vehicles are not the future, they are the now and the public needs reliable access to charging,” said Fred Redell, energy commissioner for the County of Maui. “This transition makes sense and will help keep this valuable charging network a community asset.”

“Ulupono Initiative fully supports Maui Electric taking ownership of the charging infrastructure, in addition to the 25 statewide previously allotted EV fast charging stations,” said Greg Gaug, vice president of investments for Ulupono Initiative. “The network provides a crucial charging backbone that Maui’s EV drivers rely on, and it is an essential foundation for future growth of clean transportation on the island.”

The new service planned by Maui Electric will encompass updated technology that will expand its capabilities to serve all EVs from domestic and international car manufacturers and offer convenience, accessibility, and reliability to the EV owner. Most, if not all, of the 1,000 vehicles currently on Maui will be able to use the chargers. No monthly subscription will be required as with the current membership model.

Part of the proposal includes a new EV-MAUI rate that is based on the existing EV-U rate already approved for Maui. Currently on Maui, the EV-U rate is 49 cents per kilowatt-hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.; 62 cents per kWh between 5p.m. and 10 p.m.; and 60 cents per kWh between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.

“The EV-MAUI rate will also incentivize ‘smart’ charging, by providing lower rates during mid-day hours, when solar energy from independent power producers and the thousands of customers with rooftop PV is abundant,” Suzuki said. “If approved to own and operate these chargers, we will also be able to analyze charging data to the extent possible to help inform future decisions regarding meeting customer needs.”

A fast charger can power a typical 100-mile EV battery up to 80 percent full in less than 30 minutes. While mileage varies, a typical electric vehicle gets about 3.5 miles per kWh.

For more information on EVs, including a calculator that helps provide side-by-side comparisons of a conventional vehicle to a plug-in vehicle click here.

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