Maui Serves As Green Energy Model For Electric Vehicles And Smart Grid

University of Hawai'i Maui College and the State Energy Office host the Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance Kick-Off at the Grand Wailea Hotel.
Attendees of the Maui EVA Kickoff Meeting inspect
Attendees of the Maui EVA Kickoff Meeting inspect
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Kahului - Hawaii - US

Nov. 2, 2011 - PRLog -- Kahului, HI — A consortium from the University of Hawai’i Maui College, Hawai’i State Energy Office, Honolulu Clean Cities and 30 other Hawai’i government, business, and organization partners met yesterday at the Grand Wailea to launch the Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance (Maui EVA), which will create an overall county-wide plan and infrastructure for the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs).

Maui EVA was seeded with a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its Clean Cities Initiative Awards.  The grant was given to the University of Hawai’i Maui College—in partnership with the Hawaii State Energy Office, Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT)—to prepare Maui for the widespread adoption of EVs.  Maui EVA decided that the quickest way to accelerate adoption would be to target Maui County companies, hotels, and state parks that serve the visitor industry, encourage them to partner with Maui EVA, and collectively create the infrastructure needed.

“We estimate that 15-20% of the vehicles used on Maui are rental cars driven by visitors, a much higher density than in other cities or counties of comparable size elsewhere,” said Susan Wyche, UHMC special project coordinator.  “With such short driving distances, EVs are the perfect choice for visitors coming to enjoy our island.  But to give them that option, we need the support of rental car companies, as well as public charging stations at hotels, state parks, and other recreational sites.  Once an island-wide infrastructure is in place, residents will be able to use those charging stations, and rental car companies, like Enterprise and Hertz, will be able to sell their EV fleet to the local Maui market instead of shipping them elsewhere.”

Along with car rental companies, auto dealers understand the benefit of creating charging stations as the demand for EVs increases.  October saw the arrival of the first Chevy Volt on Maui at Jim Falk Motors. They’ve already sold several Nissan Leafs. “We’ve sold close to 35 EVs this year, and the demand is increasing every month,” says Andy Stehl, sales consultant for Jim Falk Maui Motors.  “We’ve heard from customers that the lack of charging stations really influences their decision to choose an EV.  More charging stations would definitely expand the market.”

Developing the infrastructure for EV use will also help drive the green economic engine for Maui County.  Once the infrastructure for advanced charging stations are built, charging stations will require maintenance technical support, creating even more “green” jobs.

“The State is committed to build a clean energy economy with new businesses and new jobs for our residents. The green workforce, already a fast-growing segment in Hawaii, is expected to grow by more than 25% next year,” said Mark Glick, administrator for the State Energy Office.  “We’re among the top three in the nation for green job growth and Maui is leading the way with the most green jobs in the state.  More EVs on the road will mean less use of imported oil, a great contribution to the State’s 70% clean energy goal.”

To prepare the workforce, UHMC will train auto repair technicians as well as electricians, contractors, engineers and managers with the technical skillset they need through the Sustainable Construction, Trade Apprenticeship, Engineering Technology and Sustainable Science Management programs and degrees.

To promote adoption of electric vehicles, Maui Electric Company (MECO) is proactively working to integrate higher amounts of clean energy and ensure a safe and reliable electrical grid. Members from the Japan-U.S. Smart Grid Community Demonstration Project (Japan Smart Grid Project) also met yesterday at the Grand Wailea Hotel to address those issues.  

“Electric vehicles will help us reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels,” said MECO President Ed Reinhardt.  “One of the goals of the Japan-U.S. Smart Grid Project is to give MECO the ability to actively manage EV charging, which will enable us more efficient use of the clean renewable energy resources on our island.”

"Electric cars are clean, quiet and dependable," said Mayor Alan Arakawa, who attended both Maui EVA and Japan-U.S. Smart Grid Project meetings. "Maui has the opportunity to show the world the full benefits of both EVs and smart grid technologies operating in tandem.  Maui is proud to serve as the testing ground for both technologies."

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Source:Nicole Beattie
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Tags:Electric Vehicles, Evs, Electric Cars, Smart Grid
Industry:Technology, Energy, Environment
Location:Kahului - Hawaii - United States
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