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“Project Better Place” An Interesting Debate

I was the first in the State to mention Project Better Place coming to Hawaii back on September 7th of last year.

I’ve thought about the project for awhile, and I think it might work on the other islands the way they have the stations planned now, but I just don’t see how they can be feasible with only four stations on the Big Island.


In this recently released youtube clip, Project Better Place CEO Shai Agassi talks about the Hawaii Project at  about the 7:00 minute mark.  Towards the end of the video, a managing editor at Forbes explains why this might not work.

Better Place CEO and founder Shai Agassi wants to change the automotive industry by switching gas stations with battery replacement and charging stations for the next generation of electric cars.

Although current plans include smaller areas like Hawaii, Israel, Denmark, and San Francisco, Better Place aims at nothing short of an industry-transforming revolution. Will it be possible?

In this extended interview (at end of clip), Shai Agassi discusses his companys plans and challenges. Bruce Upbin, a managing editor at Forbes Magazine, comments on Better Places challenges and why the network may not work in the U.S.


Things to think about:

1. Prices of Gas have fallen…

2. Building a network… is there enough stations

3. Capital… does Project Better Place have enough money?

“Project Better Place” and Mobility Miles

I was just reading this article from the San Jose paper the Mercury News and I found this interesting article with more on how “Project Better Place” will be making their money on this project:

Under the Better Place model, consumers can either buy or lease an electric car from the French automaker Renault or Japanese companies like Nissan (General Motors snubbed Agassi) and then buy miles on their electric car batteries from Better Place the way you now buy an Apple cell phone and the minutes from AT&T. That way Better Place, or any car company that partners with it, benefits from each mile you drive. GM sells cars. Better Place is selling mobility miles

So the way I see it, right now we tax gasoline for road projects and other things.

Question: How do we tax a private company on their profits from this invention if their cars are going to be using public roads?

Do we pass it off onto customers as they register their cars… therefore making registering these cars very expensive?  Do we pass it on at the Electric Charging Stations?

People using these cars on a daily basis to drive in from Puna to Hilo are going to be paying a lot per mile to this private company!

Lt. Governor Aiona… “The Era of Oil is Over” – Puna Geothermal Ventures Anniversary Pictures

Naeole, Kenoi, and Aiona eat with Ormat Chief Technology Officer, Lucien Y. Bronicki

District 5 Councilwoman Emily Naeole, Mayor Billy Kenoi, and Lt. Governor Duke Aiona eat with Ormat Chief Technology Officer, Lucien Y. Bronicki

Today marks the 15th anniversary of producing renewable geothermal electricity on Hawaii Island.

…In the early 1990s, Puna Geothermal Venture, a partnership between two mainland power companies, received a permit to produce renewable geothermal energy at a site in Puna in the East Rift Zone. The facility went online in 1993

More Here

Puna Geothermal Venture will be holding a celebration and luau today in honor of the occasion.

Lt. Governor Duke Aiona gave a brief speech about Hawaii becoming more self sustainable.  His key words that I picked up on were:

“The Era of Oil is Over”

Lt. Governor Duke Aiona with Ormat Chief Bronicki

Lt. Governor Duke Aiona with Ormat Chief Lucien Y. Bronicki and Wife

Billy Kenoi and Some Ex-Blogger

Mayor Billy Kenoi and Some Ex-Blogger/ Mayoral Stalker (Hunter Bishop)

Geothermal Electric Vehicle

Geothermal Electric Vehicle

Kainui Stocksdale and Representative Hanohano

Kaniu Stocksdale and House Representative Faye Hanohano

Cousins Councilwoman Emily Naeole and State Rep. Hanohano

Cousins Councilwoman Emily Naeole and State Rep. Hanohano

Emily Naeole's New Legislative Aide(s) R.J. Hampton and Sativa

Emily Naeole's New Legislative Aide(s) R.J. Hampton and Sheryle "Sativa" Sulton

Kau Kau

Kau Kau

Emcee - Jacqueline "Skylark" Rosetti

Emcee - Jacqueline "Skylark" Rosetti

Click on  thumbnails for larger pictures (I’m not sure why there are a few doubles?):

Last week, Senator Kalani English posted this youtube video about the importance of Geothermal:


I saw lots of other media outlets there.  I’ll update this list as I see other articles.

Big Island Video News as well as Hawaii247 were also in attendance.

*Edit* I just received this PR:

(Pahoa, Hawai‘i—December 10, 2008)—Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) celebrates 15 years of producing renewable geothermal electricity on Hawai‘i Island as the state seeks to tap greater levels of clean renewable energy resources—particularly for electric transportation.

“When Big Island residents are sleeping, geothermal energy might be charging their electrical vehicles or producing hydrogen fuel,” said Lt. Governor James “Duke” Aiona, Jr.

Roughly 200 business and community representatives, supporters and employees of PGV attended a luau luncheon at the plant facility in Pahoa, Hawaii today (Wednesday, December 10, 2008).

Hawaii recently announced plans for electric vehicle recharging stations across Hawaii. An electric car powered by geothermal energy was on display at the PGV event.

“Hawai`i Island promises to be in the forefront of the electric vehicle network because our island already has more than 30 percent of its electric power coming from alternatives—20 percent from here at PGV,” said Mike Kaleikini, PGV Plant Manager.

In operation since 1993, Puna Geothermal Venture delivers 30 megawatts of firm, renewable energy to Hawaii Electric Light Company, providing nearly 20 percent of the Big Island’s electricity needs. The only commercial geothermal power plant in the state, PGV is located in Puna District in Kilauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone. State-of-the-art technology generates power by extracting steam and hot water from this volcanic hot spot and converting it into electricity. One hundred percent of its fluids are injected back into the Earth’s interior without exposure to the open air. As a result the plant has near zero emissions.

“The underground geothermal resource at PGV has the capacity to generate considerably more than 30 megawatts,” says Kaleikini. “We are poised to expand our production to help meet the Big Island’s emerging energy needs.”

Geothermal energy is what’s known as a “firm” resource—when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, heat from the earth continues to produce steady flows of geothermal steam used to produce electricity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

PGV employs about 30 people as well as routine and seasonal contractors, contributing to payroll revenues to Hawaii Island. PGV is also a good neighbor, sponsoring local educational and civic organizations.

“We at Puna Geothermal Venture consider this geothermal resource a gift, to be used wisely,” said Kaleikini. “We recognize that we—all of Hawaii—are in fact the beneficiaries of this tremendous natural and sustainable resource. In this special year for our company, we want to express our sincere appreciation to our Big Island friends and neighbors, staff, suppliers, stockholders, and colleagues around the state for their continuing support as partners in our growth.”

Puna Geoethermal Venture is an affiliate of Ormat Technologies, In., based in Reno, Nevada. In operation since 1993, Puna Geothermal Venture produces geothermal electricity that provides electricity for nearly 20 percent of the electricity needs of Hawaii Island.

Maui to be First Island in Hawaii to Test “Project Better Place” Cars

Maui Electric will test electric vehicles through a new agreement with a California company.

Gov. Linda Lingle, Maui Electric Co. and Phoenix Motorcars announced Tuesday the plan to test all-electric vehicles and an electric vehicle infrastructure on Maui…

More Here

Project Better Place

Japan Signs on to “Project Better Place”

A local startup company is building electric battery charging stations in Japan.  The Japanese Government will pay for a 6-month pilot project with Palo Alto-based startup “Project Better Place”

More Here

Charging Station Locations Unveiled for “Project Better Place”

From the map of the locations of the charging stations on the Big Island, it looks like if I were to try and get a charge, I would have to drive nearly 30-40 miles round trip just to get a “Fill-up”.

The following map is a grid that “Project Better Place” released.  While it looks pretty good for the Island of Oahu, neighbor islands are going to be hurting.  Especially the West side of Kauai.

Project Better Place Charging Locations

Project Better Place Charging Locations

I have to question the Big Island locations.

I see they are trying to get the North, East, West, South locations, but does this company understand the population base of this Island?

The following Big Island locations is where I would suggest these charging stations to be located:

Ulupono Shopping Center (Future Site) Puna,  somewhere near the Hilo airport,  Hilo town, Waimea,  Honokaa, Puako,  South Point and Kona.

“Project Better Place” Unveils More Information

I’ve been blogging on and off about “Project Better Place” for the last few months.

Today, the company released more information on how these cars will work:

In every electric car on the network, Better Place will install its operating system to serve as the intelligence for the car and the network. The system will centralize the energy consumption of the car and help drivers plan travel routes so that the car always has enough power to get to and from a destination, according to a company release.

The Better Place software in the car will be connected to the service control center, which is designed to provide information and solutions for driving destinations in real time. The control center centralizes the energy consumption, regulates the different demands, and produces an energy consumption plan that is fitted to each car…

More Here

It kind of sounds like a “Big Brother is Watching You” type of car.  The company will know exactly where you are and what your driving habits are when ever they feel like it.

I think that it’s great that we are looking towards sustainable living, I just don’t know enough about these cars to really stand behind this project at this time.

But if Project Better Place wants to use me as a guinea pig… I’d be happy to try out one of the cars!

More on Project Better Place in Hawaii here.

Shai Agassi Press Conference Announcing “Project Better Place”


Governor Lingle Driving a “Project Better Place” Car… The Video

This was shot after Lingle Announced that “Project Better Place” would go forward:


New York Times Confirms “Project Better Place” Coming to Hawaii… I Still Say They Are Only in it for Money

I was the first in Hawaii to blog about “Project Better Place” back on September 7th.

It hit the newspapers a few weeks later saying that it was coming… however, I corrected the paper and said that it was not confirmed here.

I mentioned how I thought “Project Better Place” was only in it for the money and company officials  attempted to dispute my theory here.

The New York Times, has confirmed today that “Project Better Place” is coming to Hawaii:

The State of Hawaii and the Hawaiian Electric Company on Tuesday endorsed an effort to build an alternative transportation infrastructure based on electric vehicles with swappable batteries and an “intelligent” battery recharging network…

By using existing electric car technologies, coupled with an Internet-connected web of tens of thousands of recharging stations, he thinks his company, Better Place LLC of Palo Alto, Calif., will make all-electric vehicles feasible

…In the collapse of the mortgage economy, he said that investors are looking for new classes of assets that will provide dependable revenue streams over a multiyear time frame. “I believe the new asset class is batteries,” he said. “When you have a driver in a car using a battery, nobody is going to cut their subscription and stop driving...”

More Here

As I previously stated… it will cost more to the consumer to constantly buy and recharge batteries, then gasoline costs now.

Project Better Place sponsored video:


Project Better Place in the News Again

I mentioned how the Advertiser “Jumped the Gun” on Project Better Place here.

In today’s paper, they mentioned Project Better Place again, however, this time they only called it a “proposal”.

…The privately funded Better Place made headlines last month when it unveiled its proposal for an Island grid that would charge up electric cars for a fee…

It would be cool if we did finally get what I originally spoke about here a long time ago.

I still think Project Better Place is just in it for the money, however, from the comments that were made by company official “Truth”  here, they will be quick to tell you differently.


Oops… Honolulu Advertiser Jumps the Gun (Like I Haven’t Ever Done that Before)

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Project Better Place was in negotiations with Hawaii.

The Honolulu Advertiser reported yesterday:

The next car you buy could be powered by electricity.


Electric vehicles are expected to be available in Hawai’i’s auto showrooms in 2011, and Palo Alto, Calif.-based company Better Place is planning to build a vast network of charging stations on four islands to keep them rolling.

I will stick to my original blog posting about them still being negotiations.

This article backs me up on the negotiations still being in progress:

“Despite a report by a Hawaii newspaper, Better Place says it has not yet finalized a deal to bring its network of electric-car-battery swapping and recharging stations to the Aloha state…”

More Here

I wonder how long it will take for them to make a correction… or will they?

Project Better Place Finally Makes Local News… I Still Think They Are In it for The Money

I Blogged about “Project Better Place” here a few weeks ago.

One of the comments left here by a representative of the company when I asked the question if Project Better Place was only in it for the money was:

If Better Place were only in it for the money, they would not come to the US at all. They will stay in Europe where gasoline is $10 gallon…

The reason DOE needs to intervene is the fact that the feds are underpricing the true cost of gasoline for the US economy

The Honolulu Advertiser finally has reported on this here in which they state:

“Better Place’s subscriber-based model borrows from the mobile-phone industry. The company does not manufacture or sell electric vehicles; that will be done by traditional automakers and car dealers.

Car owners would sign up with Better Place for a monthly plan providing recharge and battery exchange services for unlimited miles or other options such as pay-as-you-go.”

So what this tells me… is they are obviously in it for the money… Because the Mobile Phone Industry is pretty much all about making a dollar.

“Project Better Place” Representative Talks of Electronic Car Distribution in Hawaii

I mentioned first about Project Better Place here and questioned the motivation behind the company here.

I emailed a company representative the following question:

I’m very interested in these vehicles as I currently am an advisor for one of the State Hawaii Projects here on the Big Island of Hawaii.

How are recipients going to be chosen for these cars?

The response I just received was:

We will work through a similar segmentation as we do in Israel with early cars. The first trial (roughly 250-500 cars) will go to 10 or so segments, including government, taxis, military, and various consumer groups.

I want one of these buggahs!

Is “Project Better Place” Just in it For the Money?

I wrote about “Project Better Place” coming to Hawaii the other day.

I just read this comment out of Israel that has me wondering about the project:

Better Place’s share in the project still remains unclear but there can be no doubting that the model’s implementation will be followed worldwide. The Department of Energy, the project’s main partner, has a tremendous influence on the US energy economy and the way it is regulated, as well as control over funding for research and development that can turn under-funded ideas into a business reality worth billions.

One clue to the business potential is the attempt to introduce alternative energy sources and a green, sustainable environment in the large US military forces permanently stationed in the Hawaiian islands. Will we see US soldiers driving around in battery-powered staff cars?

“Project Better Place” Coming to Hawaii?

I wrote about the Plug-In cars that are coming to Hawaii from Idaho National Laboratories the other day.

Project Better Place sounds like something similar, and is currently in negotiations with the State to try and get it’s electric cars here in the islands.

With the automobile industry lobby, and US driving habits keeping doors to the US still firmly shut, cars running on alternative fuel sources are now looking for a backdoor entrance to that market. Among those currently looking for such on such an entrance is Project Better Place which is now in advanced negotiations with the state government of Hawaii on the adoption of its electric car and battery charging infrastructure.

This video talks more about Project Better Place.


More here.