HONOLULU (KHON2) — It’s no secret electric vehicles are gaining popularity. You see them everywhere driving on the road, today.

But, EV owners said finding a place to charge their car isn’t easy.

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) and Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) are working to change that.

There are about 19,000 registered electric vehicles In Hawaii and 5,200 plug in hybrids according to the State’s energy department.

But, electric vehicle owner, Christiana Ponzani, said there are not enough places to charge them.

“It’s a rat race,” Ponzani said. “One person pulls out; immediately, another person pulls back in. So, you’re really lucky if you find one.”

Sarah Ah-See, who’s owned her EV for about seven years said she’s always worried when she has to drive to rural areas.

“If you’re going to, like, a beach, to Haleiwa or, like, the North Shore, it’s, like, ‘How am I going to get back home?'” said Ah-See.

According to the Department of Transportation, there are only 490 public charging stations in Honolulu.

Hawaiian Electric Company said Hawaii has the lowest charging ports per electric vehicle in the country.

That needs to change.

“The focus from the electric utilities perspective is how do we create that critical backbone of infrastructure to make sure that people can sleep at night knowing that they’ll be able to charge their car when they need to go to work in the morning,” Marceau explained.

HECO currently has 32 charging stations in the state, with another 300 in the works, according to Marceau. She said they’re just waiting for the Public Utilities Commission’s approval.

Ed Sniffen, HDOT’s Deputy Director for Highways, said they’re also pushing for more charging ports.

“Our plan shows 12 locations throughout the state that we’d be putting these in,” Sniffen said. “And, we’re starting with eight starting in the summer.”

Once they have those in, he said they’re hoping to add more.

“We want to make sure that we have charging stations throughout. So, it’d be just like gas stations for everyone,” Sniffen added.

While some of the charging stations are free, not all of them are; but it’s still cheaper and better for the environment than gas.

“When we designed this program, that’s one of the things that we really kept in mind is how do we stay competitive with the price of gas,” Marceau explained.

Marceau said it’s usually cheaper to charge mid-day. Evening peak hours do cost more. 

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Even so, Sniffen said it’s definitely cheaper than gas; and the push to add more charging ports goes hand in hand with the states goal of a zero emissions clean energy by 2045.