Electric vehicle charging stations appear on island

PO‘IPU — Electric vehicle charging stations are starting to appear on Kaua‘i.

On Monday, Al Hoffman, the director of engineering at the Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club in Po‘ipu, was joined by Christina Gabriel, the resort’s general manager, to show how the three units at their resort operate.

“It’s easy,” Hoffman said. “Guests get a fob from the front desk, insert it in the control unit and plug the unit into the car.”

Once connected, Hoffman said the car interacts with the charging unit and activates it, triggering the charging process.

“We have three stations, but four parking stalls,” Gabriel said. “The cord is long enough so we are able to service four cars.”

Now that the charging units are in place, rental car companies should be able to start renting out electric cars, they said.

Denise Wardlow, general manager of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, said the Westin recently completed the installation of two stations with two charging units apiece, enabling the Westin to charge up to four cars.

“I don’t think there are any electric cars in any of the Kaua‘i rental fleets, but we did have a short conversation with the party who does the Green Cars at the Grand Hyatt Kaua‘i Resort and Spa,” Wardlow said.

“The Sheraton Kaua‘i in Po‘ipu is in the process, or has completed, installing (electric vehicle) charging stations at their property in Po‘ipu, and I believe the St. Regis Princeville is also scheduled to have units installed, if they haven’t already done so,” Wardlow said. “We had ours operational about two or three weeks ago.”

Hawai‘i Revised Statutes 291-71 and 291-72 state that all public, private and government parking facilities which are available for use by the general public and include at least 100 parking spaces must designate at least 1 percent of the spaces specifically for electric vehicles, or EVs, according to the Alternative Fuels and Advanced Vehicles Data Center of the U.S. Department of Energy.

At least one of the parking spaces must be located near the building entrance, and spaces must be clearly marked and equipped with an EV charging unit that meets recognized standards.

Kaua‘i County in March 2011 announced it was the recipient of a grant from the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to implement a comprehensive Electric Vehicle Support and Outreach program to satisfy the requirements of the state law.

The $276,000 grant will allow the county to purchase six electric chargers to be installed at county facilities and to acquire five commercially available electric vehicles with charging stations for county use.

Estrella Seese, acting energy administrator for the state agency’s Energy Office said strong partnerships are being developed to help speed up the use of electric vehicles and charging equipment in Hawai‘i.

“Drivers will be saving on fuel costs, less imported oil will be used for the same amount of mileage, and in the near future, electric cars will be fueled by electricity produced from renewable resources such as the sun and wind,” Seese said in a news release.

The county took delivery of Nissan Leafs which are available for sale along with Chevrolet Volts from Kuhio Motors.

Hoffman said the charging stations at the Waiohai were installed with the power setup they currently have, but if more stations are going to be installed, the resort will have to work with Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative for the additional power requirements for the stations, which utilize 230 volts for each station.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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