EV Charging Network Stalls Out in Hawaii

4 years ago by Cody Osborne 11

Some of These Better Place Chargers in Hawaii Are Certainly Useless Right Now

Some of These Better Place Chargers in Hawaii Are Certainly Useless Right Now

In 2010, the state of Hawaii made a commitment to install 230 chargers at 95 locations within two years.

AFDC Lists 129 Chargers in Hawaii - Though Some May be Out of Service or Private-Use Only

AFDC Lists 129 Chargers in Hawaii – Though Some May be Out of Service or Private-Use Only

Several companies were eager to do the installations, with the contracts being awarded to AeroVironment, Better Place, GreenCar Hawaii, County of Kauai, City and County of Honolulu and Plug-in America.

However, progress has been mixed and prices at some locations are sky high.

While charges have been installed at 96 locations—according to the Hawaii state website, as of August 2012—most of these locations are near Honolulu, the state’s population center.

The outer islands appear to have been neglected. Each island only has 12 public charging locations, spread evenly across the respective islands. Many of these stations are from operators that are no longer in business.

For instance, the chargers installed by Better Place are now viewed as useless, since the access cards have stopped working.

OpConnect Looks to Turn Around the Situation in Hawaii

OpConnect Looks to Turn Around the Situation in Hawaii

OpConnect of Oregon has committed to rebuilding the network of failed chargers. However, that work has been slow, with only a few chargers switched over in the last year.

One of those new stations that OpConnect has managed to bring online is expensive to use. It is located on the Big Island and the charge is $3.25/hour for Level 2 charging and $2.25/hour for Level 1 charging.

OpConnect claims that it is not responsible for the high prices. Nathan Hayes of Opconnect told InsideEVs that the owner of the property sets the prices.  Opconnect has no control over this.

How much use will these new chargers get used with the per use cost being so high?

And, if you reside in the state of Hawaii and own a plug-in vehicle, do you feel let down by the failure to fulfill the promise to cover the state, including the outlying islands, with chargers?

Sources: Hawaii Government Website, Alternative Fuels Data Center

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11 responses to "EV Charging Network Stalls Out in Hawaii"

  1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    Man, the economics of EVs in Hawaii really don’t work unless you have solar.

    1. Assaf says:

      Oh, let me shed some light on this:

      a. Gas in Hawaii is more expensive too,
      b. There is a special night EV-charging rate for electric consumers in Hawaii, and
      c. Unlike the mainland, everywhere in Hawaii except the Big Island a Nissan Leaf (or equivalent) is perfectly suitable to meet 100% of the needs any family. So no need to keep a 2nd ICE car on the side, or to rent one.

      Hawaiians are certainly not stupid in being the #1 EV adopting state on a per-capita basis (or possibly, a very close second to California).

  2. kdawg says:

    According to Chargepoint, there are 142 stations in Hawaii.

    Maybe if the demand is there, more businesses should install a Chargepoint station:
    http://www.chargepoint.com/net+purchase/

    “ChargePoint, the world’s largest and most open EV network, has revolutionized EV charging, again. Introducing the Net+ Purchase Plan, the first all-inclusive purchase program designed to make owning EV charging stations easier and more affordable than ever with no upfront costs.
    With low fixed monthly payments on EV charging, you can free up cash-flow and even generate net positive revenue. In partnership with Key Equipment Finance, the Net+ Purchase Plan was designed as the ultimate solution to empower your bottom line. Read more about the benefits of financing.”

    1. Jim Burness says:

      kdag, you’re absolutely right. As a national distributor for ChargePoint, we can help secure those units. http://www.nationalcarcharging.com.

  3. alohart says:

    The economics of EV’s works fine in Hawaii because of the high cost of gasoline even though electricity is expensive. But from a fuel cost perspective, driving the most fuel-efficient car built, my 2000 Honda Insight, in Honolulu (62 mpg average) would be less expensive than driving my i-MiEV if I charged at home. However, I have always used free public charging stations, so fuel for my i-MiEV has been free which beats even my Honda Insight.

    However, using free public charging stations has become much more difficult as this article says. Better Place installed more public charging stations than all other companies combined. But after Better Place sold all of its Hawaii public charging stations to OpConnect, these charging stations have suffered from lack of maintenance so that many are no longer functional. The remaining functional charging stations have become increasingly busy as the number of plug-in vehicles continues to increase.

    The Honolulu electricity cost for 3.3 kW L2 charging is about $1/hour. So charging $3.25/hour is too expensive for my car with a 3.3 kW charger but not so bad for cars with 6.6 kW chargers assuming that the charging station will deliver 6.6 kW. The regulations need to be changed so that charging stations can charge based on the power delivered, or they need to charge at a maximum of 3.3 kW at no more than $2/hour. I don’t know whether charging twice the cost of electricity would be economically feasible for owners of public charging stations, but if they have to charge a higher rate, I doubt that their charging stations will be used much.

  4. philba says:

    I was on Maui about 6 months ago. There were solar panels everywhere. The Maui power company was telling people “don’t put up any more panels, we don’t have transmission capacity for them.” It seems to me that charging from solar panels would be a very good thing if you can charge during the day.

    Also, how far is the average drive on the islands? I suspect that public chargers don’t make sense for the simple reason that it’s hard to drive that far from home in general. Yeah, I suppose the road to Hana is pretty long but that’s not even close to average.

    Maybe the state should focus on helping people put in home or business solar chargers.

  5. miimura says:

    “For instance, the chargers installed by Better Place are now viewed as useless, since the access cards have stopped working.”

    I believe this is not correct. My understanding is that the existing access cards still work, but OpConnect cannot get any more, so those stations are not usable by new customers. This is why they are replacing the Better Place charging stations. Now, whether some of the old Better Place stations are broken or not is another issue.

    1. Assaf says:

      Ahhh, more victims of Better Place.

      I just had an interesting discussion with an ex-Better Place employee in Israel, who has hung onto his Fluence ZE until now, but is going to return it b/c the battery-swap stations are shutting down and there is essentially no L2 infrastructure there. That besides having to look for another job (I think he found one).

      So my Hawaiian friends consider yourselves lucky…

  6. Cody Osborne says:

    I know of at least two Better Place stations that are completely inoperable, and as alohart stated, there is most likely a lot more. Compound that with the lack of support on the network, pricing and Aerovironments issues and we have a problem. There is other problems, but the lack of clarity seems to be the biggest. We don’t know what we have, what actually works and what it costs, among other things. Clarity is needed, and I will continue to work on that for everyone! 🙂

  7. pjwood says:

    Gas is maybe 25-40 cents more. Electricity is 3x the US avg, at 32 cents per kWh, or so. So, cost at 10k could be $3.20. Maybe owners thought users all have Teslas;)

  8. Bill Howland says:

    Yeah, never having traveled to Hawaii I’m unsure of the relative size of the Islands, but 95 public chargers, in view of the total acreage sounds like a LOT of public chargers. Im sure they have more chargers per acre than public chargers in buffalo, new york as a for instance.

    EV’s there just burn alot of #2 fuel oil, but thats ok with me, seeing that the arctic ice extent has increased by 929,000 square miles in the past 12 months alone. But I understand most everyone else is frightened by the oil use.

    I’m in favor of greater solar panel use (if the alternative is more Nuclear plants or some other horrendous solution), and full disclosure – I tend to make more money with every solar panel purchased. I don’t have any personally yet, but my town has alot of them, except they won’t pay for someone to go up and wipe the snow off so they’re useless during the winter time here.