MAPUNAPUNA, Hawaii (KHON2) — Prices at the pump are still high and locals are looking for ways to save.
Hybrid vehicles — which use both gas and electric power — can help, but are there enough places to charge up on the Islands?
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Mililani resident Amy Yonashiro bought a plug-in hybrid and said she has only had to fill up gas twice since November 2021. She said having backup fuel is important when charging stalls are not available.
“Both, not enough and full,” Yonashiro said about public charging stalls in Hawaii. “So having a hybrid plug-in, you know, when the electric runs down, we still have gas so it’s not an emergency to have to recharge.”
Yonashiro also has an at-home charger. There are 839 public ports in Hawaii for more than 10,000 registered electric vehicles, according to the Department of Energy, which is about 8 ports for every 100 electric vehicles.
Hawaiian Electric operates 27 direct-current fast chargers and plans to open 150 more over the next 8 years, as well as 150 level 2 chargers.
“What we’re really trying to accomplish is create what’s called a critical — or what we call a critical backbone of charging infrastructure,” said Aki Marceau, Hawaiian Electric’s Electrification of Transportation director, “so our drivers or our community, they don’t have to worry about range anxiety.”
Hawaiian Electric said the private sector will need to step in to support Hawaii’s needs, like at Ala Moana Center. Ala Moana’s 17 electric vehicle charging stations are free for drivers thanks to billboard-style ads.
“They’ve actually put up large boards that have advertising on them, so the advertising actually pays for the charging. But at the end of the day, someone’s paying for it. That electricity is not free,” Marceau said.
Servco said the price of gas is driving interest up in hybrid vehicles, but there are things to consider for condo and townhome residents.
“We ask them for kind of like their lifestyle or what is available at their homes,” said Judy Relosimon Ng, Brand Marketing director at Servco Pacific, “not everyone have the ability to put a charging station at their home, for example.”
Hawaii Energy offers a charging station rebate for businesses while Hawaiian Electric has a discount program for home charging systems. The goal in 2019 was to have 3,600 public charging ports online by 2030, but officials said that number needs revisiting with the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act.
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“So these are old numbers, I would actually say it’s probably more ambitious than that and we’ll need more sooner,” Marceau said.