5,000th Electric Vehicle Registered in Hawaii, Drive Electric Hawaii Formed to Promote Electric Transportation

Eight key organizations have agreed to collaborate on electrification of ground transportation in Hawaii as an essential part of achieving the state’s clean energy goals.

Drive Electric Hawaii seeks to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles through coordinated collaboration, and to make it easier to expand vehicle-charging infrastructure in a way that brings more renewable energy onto the electric grid.

The new organization’s launch coincides with registration of the 5,000th electric vehicle in Hawaii.

Click to read memorandum

Founding participants who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding are: Blue Planet Foundation; Hawai‘i State Department of Transportation (HDOT); Hawaii State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT); Hawaii State Division of Consumer Advocacy; the Hawaiian Electric Companies (including Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light); Kauai Island Utility Cooperative; Rocky Mountain Institute; and Ulupono Initiative. Other agencies and organizations are expected to join as the initiative moves forward.

“The primary focus of the Drive Electric Hawaii Initiative is to accelerate the cost-effective electrification of transportation in all passenger vehicles, public transit vehicles, and fleet vehicles…,” the memorandum states. “This effort will play a meaningful part toward the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative objective of increasing energy security and self-sufficiency by eliminating Hawaii’s dependence on imported fuels for both electricity and ground transportation.”

Hawaii is second in the nation (after California) in per capita electric vehicle registrations and a leader in charging facilities. Despite low gasoline prices, plug-in passenger vehicles registered in the state increased 26 percent last year. At the same time, gasoline and diesel vehicle registrations fell by 4 percent and 3 percent respectively.

“We are in the midst of a massive transformation,” said Richard Wallsgrove of Blue Planet Foundation. “Electric vehicles can use renewable energy, enabling us to drastically reduce our state’s carbon pollution. At the same time, electric vehicles can help to lower the cost of energy for everyone. This can be a true win-win.”

With over one million vehicles registered in the state, Wallsgrove said, “Reaching 5,000 electric vehicles is an early milestone. But every great journey starts with one step. The goal of Drive Electric Hawaii is to accelerate this progress, reaching our clean energy goals faster, together.”

“Being able to offer EV users power that is generated from renewable sources is a high priority for us at Kauai Island Utility Cooperative. At 36 percent, we are well on our way to reaching – and exceeding – our goal of 50 percent renewables by 2023,” said David Bissell, KIUC president and CEO.

The initiative grew out of Rocky Mountain Institute’s eLab Accelerator initiative – “a boot camp for electricity innovation”– where earlier this year Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaiian Electric, Ulupono Initiative, and other Hawaii representatives brainstormed ways get more electric vehicles deployed and successfully integrated into the grid. Colorado-based RMI is an independent, global non-profit organization dedicated to sustainability, with a focus on market-based innovations for energy and resource efficiency.

“We think smartly integrated electric vehicles could be a boon — not a burden — for a Hawaii grid that is increasingly renewable, and Drive Electric Hawaii will help all stakeholders consider how to approach EV integration holistically,” said Jesse Morris, a principal at Rocky Mountain Institute focused on enabling the integration of distributed energy resources like EVs.

The Drive Electric Hawaii shared vision includes:

  • Building a broad coalition in support of renewable transportation
  • Encouraging use of electric vehicles
  • Increasing electric vehicle charging opportunities that support 100 percent renewable energy
  • Developing policies, regulations and laws to unlock the full value of electrified transportation

“The memorandum reinforces much of the ongoing work being done at DBEDT and elsewhere to improve the synergies between the electricity and transportation sector,” said DBEDT Director Luis P. Salaveria. “We are grateful for the leadership taken by energy and transportation stakeholders in advancing this very important piece of our clean energy transformation.”

“Drive Electric Hawaii is a great opportunity for the public, private and nonprofit sectors to collaborate on accelerating Hawaii’s bold energy and transportation goals,” said Greg Gaug, vice president of investments for the local impact investment firm Ulupono Initiative. “As part of our energy system strategy, we look forward to working with the state, utilities, and transportation and energy stakeholders to get more EVs on our roads.”

“Many individuals, organizations and agencies must work together to achieve a clean transportation energy future. No one can do it alone,” said Shelee Kimura, Hawaiian Electric vice president for corporate planning and business development. “We believe that, along with renewable generation of electricity, transportation electrification can help us achieve stable, reliable and lower-cost service for all our customers,”

With signing of the memorandum, participants will begin to establish a work plan and initiatives to move forward.

Recently Released ‘Alalā Birds Found Dead

Less then two weeks after five ‘Alalā birds were released, three have been found dead:

Two young ‘Alalā were moved back into an aviary at the State of Hawai‘i’s Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve last week, as conservationists work to overcome challenges faced by the birds during their reintroduction. A group of five birds were released into the protected reserve on December 14. Although the birds had been observed doing well and eating from feeders placed in the area, three birds were found dead over the last week. The confirmed cause of the deaths is currently unknown but conservationists hope to gather information about what happened to the birds through necropsy examinations.

John Vetter, a wildlife biologist with the Dept. of Land and Natural Resources-Division of Forestry and Wildlife said, “Some level of mortality is to be expected when reintroducing a species back into the wild and we were prepared for that possibility. The initial days of release are always the most difficult stage of any release program, and the level of uncertainty is also highest with the first release cohort. We decided to recapture the remaining birds to ensure their safety while we await the results of the necropsies, so that we can learn, respond, and continue to strive for the long-term success of the Alala.”

Pu‘u Maka‘ala Natural Area Reserve is an area that conservationists have worked to preserve, protecting native plants and species, and it represents the type of habitat where ‘Alalā originally lived before their numbers began to decline. The ‘Alalā, or Hawaiian crow, has been extinct in the wild since 2002, preserved only at the Keauhou and Maui Bird Conservation Centers managed by San Diego Zoo Global’s Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program.

Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager of the Hawai‘i Endangered Bird Conservation Program remarked, “The loss of these three birds is difficult for the entire community, including the many people who have cared for these birds since their hatch and have worked steadfastly to prepare for their release. Condolences for this loss have come from around the world.”

Makana and John Cruz Concerts Raise Money For Education Programs

Kahilu Theatre announces two Kahilu Gold Concerts to raise money for its Arts Ed @ Kahilu education programs. The concerts, held at exclusive and intimate off-site venues, will feature celebrated Hawaiian musicians Makana and John Cruz.

Makana

The idea behind the fundraising concerts is to have exceptional artists performing in beautiful and intimate locales on Hawai‘i Island, providing event goers with an upscale and truly unique experience set against a backdrop of night skies, ocean breezes, and island style living. Included the in the ticket price are heavy pupu and libations.

John Cruz

“The Kahilu Gold Concert series allows us to extend our reach to a new audience and bring attention to a resource people may not have even known existed,” said Deb Goodwin, Executive Director for Kahilu Theatre.

This is the second season of Gold Concerts. During its 2015/16 Presenting Season, Kahilu Theatre presented Lisa Hopkins Seegmiller, Amy Hanaiai‘i, and Dirty Cello.

“As we move forward, our focus is on strengthening our education programs: expanding our role in local schools, ensuring we offer a comprehensive performing arts education program at the Theatre, continuing to bring young students to the Theatre for shows with the artists in our season, and effectively marketing our programs so more of our community can benefit from the arts,” Kahilu Theatre Board President Mimi Kerley said.

The Kahilu Gold Concerts also provide the Theatre a platform to showcase its education programs, as students from the Kahilu Performing Arts Classes (KPAC) will perform routines during both concerts.

The Makana Gold Concert will take place Friday, February 10 at 6 pm. The John Cruz Gold Concert will take place Sunday, March 12 at 6 pm.

Tickets are $150 and available for purchase online at www.kahilutheatre.org, by calling (808) 885-6868, or at the Kahilu Theatre Box Office, at 67-1186 Lindsey Road, Kamuela, HI 96743, Monday-Friday, from 9 am to 1 pm.

Hawaii Governor’s Statement on Historic Pearl Harbor Visit of President Obama and Prime Minister Abe

Today we saw President Obama and Prime Minister Abe stand together at Pearl Harbor. They honored the bravery and courage demonstrated in this sacred place 75 years ago. Most importantly, they both delivered a message of tolerance, reconciliation and peace. I know the people of Hawaiʻi join me and our national leaders in committing to a continued partnership that benefits our state and both nations.

— Governor David Y. Ige