Many people here on Kaua‘i, the state and the nation are increasingly interested in moving from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles (EVs) due to climate change concerns and the energy crisis.
Many with financial means and access to home charging have moved to electric vehicles, but if we are to combat the climate crisis and transition to clean transportation equitably, charging infrastructure is needed.
Support from the construction industry and the government is necessary for a socially equitable transition.
In the recent monthly forum, Climate Legislation 2022, hosted by the Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition, there was some pushback from well-meaning legislators against the legislation to require EV infrastructure in new, multi-unit buildings.
I wanted to get some clarification, so I reached out to Noel Morin, president of the Hawai‘i EV Association. I hope the following information will help inform them and others about the wisdom of moving forward with EV infrastructure in new construction.
EVs are becoming affordable, and will eventually replace internal combustion cars. Many manufacturers have declared plans to stop producing gas vehicles. At some point, all consumers who must own a car will only have EVs to choose from. The inevitable transition of zero-emission vehicles behooves us to future-proof our housing units.
Unfortunately, the building industry is pushing back on the requirement for EV infrastructure in new construction, arguing that it will increase costs for consumers. However, installing the infrastructure during the construction process is cheaper than retrofitting. Excluding the EV charger infrastructure during construction creates a much larger financial burden for future residents.
Concern was shared about investing in something that will become obsolete, citing experiences with past deployments. Charging stations are more robust, and include networking capabilities that allow for monitoring and better maintenance. Besides, the building requirement deals with the underlying charging infrastructure, not the actual charging stations.
EV charging capabilities in multi-unit housing units are critical to the equitable transition to clean transportation. Access to EV chargers in apartment and condo complexes and ubiquitous public charging will ensure that everyone, including low-to-moderate-income households, can avail of clean, affordable transportation.
The forum referenced above was one of a monthly Zoom forum on the second Wednesday of the month sponsored by Zero Waste Kaua‘i, Surfrider Foundation Kaua‘i, and Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition.
The next forum, The Importance of Wetlands: How They can Keep us Dry, with Helen Raine, local expert on wetlands and birds, is Wednesday, May 11, hosted by Surfrider Foundation Kaua‘i. Register at https://bit.ly/kauaiwetlands. For further information or to join Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition, email email@example.com.
Dr. Helen A. Cox is chair of the Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition and co-lead of the Kaua‘i Chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby. Prior to her retirement she served as chancellor of Kaua‘i Community College for over a decade.
Source: The Garden Island