03/29/2018

HECO: More Than Half Of Us Will Be Driving Electric Vehicles By 2045

This story appeared in Civil Beat on Thursday, March 29, 2018

Hawaii, with its population of nearly 1.5 million, had less than 7,000 electric vehicles registered across the state in January, mostly on Oahu.

But the Aloha State also has shown some of the strongest interest in so-called EVs in the nation, and the Hawaiian Electric Co. now believes that number will explode to more than 430,000 EVs on Oahu alone by 2045, Brennon Morioka, the utility’s general manager for electrification of transportation, said.

If that number holds true, half of all the personal vehicles in Hawaii would be powered by electricity instead of gasoline within the next 30 years.

On Thursday, the state’s largest utility filed its so-called “Electrification of Transportation Strategic Roadmap,” a report to the Public Utilities Commission that discusses how the company, which provides power to five of Hawaii’s eight main islands, plans to meet that level of demand.

While 7,000 EVs might not sound like a lot, the report found that Hawaii already has the second-highest ownership of the cars per capita in the U.S. Only California has more.

Company officials on Wednesday described the coming spike in electric vehicle ownership as a “great leap forward” — a way to help them meet the state’s ambitious goal of generating all of its energy from renewable sources such as sun and wind by 2045.

It hinges on a critical change in behavior, however. In order to tap that renewable-energy potential, Hawaii’s EV owners need to start charging their cars during the day, when the sun is out and the solar is abundant, instead of at night, which is what most of those owners do now, industry analysts say.

A mass shift to daytime charging could open the HECO grid to as many as 200,000 private rooftop solar installations to help meet the new charging demand, according to Morioka.

“If we’re able to do it right, and to convince people to shift their charging behavior … that helps us get to the 100 percent (goal) quicker and cheaper,” Morioka said Wednesday.

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