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Electric Vehicle Discount Charing Rates May Decrease

August 3, 2015, 12:02 PM HST
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New discounts for electric vehicle charging rates may be in store in the future.

Hawaiian Electric Companies have asked the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission to approve discount EV charging rates in a new time-of-use program.

The new rates aim to promote plug-in electric vehicle use by offering simpler terms and sign-up procedures compared to the existing EV discount charging pilot and to foster more use of excess electricity generated by rooftop solar systems during the middle of the day.

Hawaiian Electric is recommending that customers enrolled in the present EV time-of-use pilot program have the option to continue at their existing rates when the current pilot expires at the end of September, 2015.

“EV numbers continue to increase and automakers are bringing more advanced plug-in electric vehicles to market. And with over 70,000 customers statewide who have or will soon have rooftop solar, we see increasing amounts of excess solar electricity available at mid-day,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.

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“The proposed new rates will help make greater use of that solar electricity and accelerate EV adoption in Hawai‘i,” Alberts said.

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In addition to upgraded discount charging rates, the Hawaiian Electric Companies are installing up to 25 DC fast chargers across O‘ahu, Maui County and Hawai‘i Island to alleviate EV drivers’ “range anxiety” and working with stakeholders on other endeavors as new ideas and technologies enter the market.

The proposed rates will have only two time-of-use schedules over 24 hours instead of three. Charging an EV at home using electricity from the grid will be most expensive during peak electricity demand from 3 p.m.-9 p.m. All other hours will be at the less expensive off-peak rate. EV owners may still choose to add a separate meter just for EV charging or keep a single meter for all household and charging use.

Signing up for EV rates will also be more simple. Customers need only certify ownership of a plug-in electric vehicle. As with the discount charging pilot in place for the last five years, customers on Hawai‘i Island, Maui, Molokai, Lana‘i and O‘ahu would be eligible to participate, upon PUC approval.

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For commercial customers, the proposed new EV rates will waive “demand charges” during off- peak periods and eliminate demand charge minimums. This will make it less expensive for commercial customers who wish to provide charging for EV fleets or their customers with EVs.

The Hawaiian Electric Companies are asking the PUC to approve this proposal by the end of September when the present pilot ends. The companies suggest the new program last until June 30, 2020, when all EV rates would be re-considered for the future.

The new rate is designed to provide more off-peak hours for home EV charging with a 6.1¢ per kWh savings for a typical residential customer on O‘ahu. By charging off-peak, that driver is estimated to save half the cost to “fuel” an electric vehicle (compared to a mid-sized gasoline- fueled sedan) by buying no gasoline but paying a slightly higher monthly electric bill. The proposed per kWh savings for off-peak EV charging for a typical residential customer on Hawaii Island is 9.2¢; on Maui is 7.3¢; on Lana‘i is 7.1¢; and on Molokai is 9.4¢.

Here are comparative sample driving costs under the proposed rates based on O‘ahu electricity and gasoline costs:

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