KIUC pushes for ‘Drive Electric Hawaii’

HONOLULU — Eight organizations have banded together on a mission to create more electric options in ground transportation in Hawaii, including the state’s Department of Transportation and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.

The campaign has been dubbed Drive Electric Hawaii. It seeks to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles through coordinated collaboration, and to make it easier to expand vehicle-charging infrastructure in a way that brings more renewable energy onto the electric grid.

“HDOT is proud to join the Drive Electric Hawaii team in promoting electric vehicles throughout the state,” said Ford Fuchigami, HDOT director. “Encouraging electric vehicle usage goes hand in hand with the administration’s sustainability goal of using 100 percent clean energy by 2045.”

HDOT and KIUC joined with the state’s divisions of Consumer Advocacy and the department of business, economic development of tourism; Hawaii State Division of Consumer Advocacy; the Hawaiian Electric Companies — including Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light; Rocky Mountain Institute; Ulupono Initiative and Blue Planet Foundation. Other agencies and organizations are expected to join as the initiative moves forward.

Beth Tokioka, spokeswoman for KIUC, said the entity’s commitment is to provide power for electric vehicles (EVs) that contain as much renewable energy source as possible.

“Being able to offer EV users power that is generated from renewable sources is a high priority for us at Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. At 36 percent, we are well on our way to reaching – and exceeding – our goal of 50 percent renewables by 2023,” said David Bissell, KIUC president and CEO.

The initiative came from Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Institute’s eLab Accelerator initiative, where earlier this year Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaiian Electric, Ulupono and other Hawaii representatives brainstormed ways to get more electric vehicles deployed and integrated into the grid, according to a joint release from the companies.

“We think smartly integrated electric vehicles could be a boon — not a burden — for a Hawaii grid that is increasingly renewable, and Drive Electric Hawaii will help all stakeholders consider how to approach EV integration holistically,” said Jesse Morris, a principal at Rocky Mountain Institute focused on enabling the integration of distributed energy resources like EVs.

The vision of Drive Electric Hawaii is to build a broad coalition in support of renewable transportation, encourage the use of electric vehicles, increase electric vehicle charging opportunities that support 100 percent renewable energy, and develop policies, regulations and laws to unlock the full value of electrified transportation, according to the release.

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