Six groups receive $2.6 million in federal grants to build more charging stations for electric vehicle across the state
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Mar 19, 2011
The effort to put more electrical vehicles on Hawaii's streets got a boost with the awarding of $2.6 million in federal grants to install and promote charging stations across the state.
The state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism said yesterday six companies and organizations will receive grants ranging from $50,000 to $854,000 under the program paid for with federal stimulus money. The "EV Ready Grant" program is designed to complement the "EV Ready Rebate Program," another initiative funded with stimulus money that provides a $4,500 rebate to consumers for the purchase of an electric vehicle and a $500 rebate for a home charging station.
Proponents of electric cars say creating a network of charging stations is a key step in getting consumers to embrace the technology because they want the assurance that they will be able to recharge their vehicles when they are away from home. The Nissan Leaf, the first mass-produced electric car to be sold in Hawaii, has a range of 100 miles on one charge.
There were 268 electric passenger vehicles registered in Hawaii last month compared with 932,647 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles, according to DBEDT.
"With the price of oil escalating because of unstable conditions in the Middle East, it's even more important for all of us to find ways to cut our use of imported fuel," said Estrella Seese, acting program energy administrator of the state Energy Office.
"Charging an electric vehicle costs much less than filling a tank with gasoline. Drivers will be saving on fuel costs; less fuel will be used for the same amount of mileage; and in the near future, electric cars will run on electricity produced from renewable resources such as the sun and wind."
Representatives from Better Place and AeroVironment said they are working with a wide variety of businesses and other entities to host the charging stations, which will be installed over the next 12 months. Locations include shopping centers, hospitals, parks, airports and schools.
The stations will be equipped with level 2 chargers, which can deliver a full charge in four to six hours depending on the vehicle's battery size.
The units are similar to what is used to charge an electric vehicle at home. The 240-volt chargers will carry the industry-standard SAE J1772 plug compatible with the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and other mass-produced electric vehicles.
Each charging station will have an electric meter connected to the grids of the respective utility on each island. How consumers are charged for the electricity will be up to the host business or entity.
Better Place plans to make its charging stations free for the first year "to help encourage adoption," said Brian Goldstein, Hawaii manager for the California-based company. Consumers using Better Place stations will need to sign up for an account that features a swipe card with a radio frequency identification tag that allows the company to keep track of who is using its system and how much electricity they're using, Goldstein said.
AeroVironment, which has a contract with Nissan to install home charging stations for Leaf owners, said its charging stations can use a variety of payment systems, including RFID tags and credit cards. How the electricity is paid for is ultimately up to the host business or entity, said Suresh Jayanthi, AeroEnvironment's business development manager for EV solutions.
Hawaiian Electric Co. has since last fall been offering its Oahu customers a discount of 6 cents per kilowatt-hour on electricity used for charging electric vehicles between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
On the neighbor islands, the EV rate ranges from 7 to 10 cents lower per kilowatt-hour.
On Oahu the EV charging rate for March is 21.9 cents per kilowatt-hour. At that rate it would cost $3.94 to provide a full charge of 18 kilowatt-hours for a Nissan Leaf, good for 100 miles of travel, according to Nissan.