Maui Electric Company has informed the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of its intent to move forward with the ownership and operation of four electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging sites of the existing EVohana network on Maui, which during a transition period has been temporarily owned and operated by Maui Economic Development Board, Inc. (MEDB).
Covering the Central, South, West and Upcountry Maui areas, the sites are located at the Queen Kaʻahumanu Center, Pi‘ilani Village Shopping Center, Lahaina Aquatic Center and Pukalani Terrace.
“MEDB as a non-profit organization took on temporary ownership and operation of the EV charging infrastructure in an effort to keep the network in place. We appreciate Maui Electric for stepping up to ensure our island continues to have access to reliable public fast-charging options for EV drivers,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB president and chief executive officer. “Without Maui Electric taking on some of these sites, the entire EVohana charging network would have been retired earlier this year.”
Maui Electric plans to install new charging equipment at the four sites allowing more EV types to charge. EV drivers will also be able to “pay-as-you-go” with multiple ways to initiate charging sessions, from smartphone apps to credit cards.
Pending approval by the PUC and site landowners, the sites will offer lower charging rates incentivizing EV drivers to plug in during the day when solar energy is abundant.
The proposed EV-MAUI charging rate is 0.28 cents per kilowatt-hour between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.; 0.40 cents per kWh between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m.; and 0.38 cents per kWh between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.
The EVohana network is currently a member-only program serving about 320 EV drivers at eight existing sites on the island. To date, there are about 1,000 total EVs registered on Maui.
The EVohana charging sites were initially established as part of the JUMPSmartMaui demonstration project, a cooperative venture between Japan, the State of Hawai‘i, County of Maui, MEDB, Hitachi and Maui Electric. The pilot project operated from 2011 to 2017 to exhibit smart grid technologies that could enable the efficient use of renewable energy on an island grid.
At the conclusion of the JUMPSmartMaui project, ownership of the charging assets was transferred to MEDB until a permanent owner and operator of the sites could be confirmed. MEDB partnered with Hitachi to create a new, temporary program called EVohana, with Hitachi ending its participation on March 31, 2019.
“As we work to add more clean energy to power our islands, EVs can play an important role in further reducing our dependency on fossil fuel and protecting our environment,” said Sharon Suzuki, president of Maui Electric. “We’re pleased to add our support by taking on the four sites with lower charging rates that encourage plugging in when we typically have a lot of solar energy on the electrical system.”
Last year, a consortium of community and advocacy groups agreed that having Maui Electric sustain the EVohana charging network would be most beneficial to current and future EV users and play an important role in integrating more renewable energy on Maui. As part of this updated plan, Maui Electric worked with MEDB, the County of Maui, and Ulupono Initiative on a transition to expedite the transfer of ownership and operation of the selected EVohana sites.
The four sites were selected based on feedback collected from EVohana members and the community, historic and forecasted usage, the cost to upgrade the aging charging infrastructure, and the annual operating and maintenance expenses.
In October, Maui Electric, along with Hawaiian Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light, will be proposing a comprehensive electrification of transportation workplan that further details the companies’ expanded role in the deployment of EV charging infrastructure for Maui County, O‘ahu and Hawai‘i Island.