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Bills Support Growth of Zero-Emission Industry

April 29, 2019, 4:50 PM HST
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In passing bills supporting electric vehicle use in Hawaiʻi, the Legislature is paving the way for the state to take its first major steps toward implementing a strong clean transportation policy.

Rep. Nicole E. Lowen. Courtesy photo.

Rep. Nicole E. Lowen, Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environment and author of two of the bills, said the time has come for Hawaiʻi to transition away from fossil-fuel powered vehicles.

“In order to meet our emissions reduction goals, we must address the transportation sector, which accounts for two-thirds of Hawaiʻi’s imported oil, and is not included in the 100% RPS requirement, which applies only to electric power generation.”

“Increasing the number and availability of charging stations is the most important thing we can do right now to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles,” said Rep. Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Hōlualoa, Kalaoa). “Within the next five years, EVs are expected to cost about the same as gasoline fueled vehicles, but price parity alone won’t be enough to drive consumers to go electric–having infrastructure in place is the key to making EVs affordable, accessible, and convenient for everyone.”

The clean transportation bills expected to be passed by the House on Tuesday, April 30, 2019:

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HB1585 HD1 SD2 CD1 creates a rebate program for the installation or upgrade of electric vehicle charging stations in publicly accessible commercial areas, workplaces, and multi-unit dwellings. The rebate is not for single-family residences or parking stalls reserved for individual use.

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HB401 HD1 SD2 CD1 allows state and county agencies to enter into performance contracts for electric vehicle fleets and charging infrastructure.

HB 852 HD1 SD1 CD1 clarifies and strengthens the role of the Hawaiʻi State Energy Office in developing policies and programs to support the adoption of clean transportation.

Rep. Lowen said these measures help to democratize the use of electric vehicles, because building out infrastructure makes EVs more affordable, accessible, and convenient for low- and middle-income working people.

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Representative Troy Hashimoto (Kahakuloa, Waihe‘e, Waiehu, Pu‘uohala, Wailuku, Waikapū) introduced HB 401.

“It’s important for government to set the example and HB 401 will provide a tool for the state and counties to benefit from the long-term savings from investing in electric vehicles, without the upfront costs,” said Rep. Hashimoto.

Murray Clay, Managing Partner of the Ulupono Initiative, submitted testimony in support of the bills saying electric vehicles are an important avenue to address Hawai‘i’s pressing climate issues and align with the state’s health, energy, and environmental goals.

“EVs are the future, but they currently only represent less than one percent of all passenger vehicles in the state,” Clay said in his testimony. “Hawai‘i must be proactive to encourage this still nascent market and be prepared with the necessary infrastructure.”

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