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Kaua‘i lands an Alternative Fuel Corridor

HA‘ENA — Motorists on Kaua‘i are going to start seeing signs reading “Alternative Fuel Corridor” along about 70 miles of highway, thanks to a new designation from the Federal Highway Administration.

It’s part of receiving federal approval for the Kaua‘i Alternative Fuel Corridor, which will add Kaua‘i to a national network of alternative-fueling and charging infrastructure situated along the National Highway System.

It’s not roadway set aside specifically for use by drivers of alternatively-fueled vehicles, but instead a route that provides access to alternative-fueling infrastructure for drivers of electric vehicles and other alternative vehicle types.

The highway segments that make up the AFC on Kaua‘i are called the “Perimeter Route,” running 71.3 miles from Ha‘ena along Highway 560, Highway 56 and Highway 50 through to West Kaua‘i.

Kaua‘i’s designation means all six major islands in Hawai‘i now have AFCs, solidifying the state’s commitment to transforming the national transportation outlook and setting a precedent on EV integration.

“Ground transportation accounts for nearly one-quarter of Hawai‘i’s energy emissions, so efforts to expand the use of EVs are central to achieving the state’s commitment to a zero-emissions, clean economy by 2045,” said Scott Glenn, Hawai‘i’s chief energy officer.

“We were grateful to have such committed and supportive partners for this project that will help reduce petroleum consumption and emissions in the transportation sector,” he said.

The nomination of the Kaua‘i corridor was coordinated by the Hawai‘i State Energy Office in cooperation with the state Department of Transportation, County of Kaua‘i, Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative, Ulupono Initiative and Sustainable Transportation Coalition of Hawai‘i.

The HSEO is also working toward creating fast-charging infrastructure on Kaua‘i to support the state’s clean-energy and climate goals.

To achieve those ends, HSEO has committed to allocate up to $50,000 to the deployment of a fast charger on Kaua‘i through its role as administrator for the State of Hawai‘i Volkswagen settlement funds. Ulupono also allocated $25,000, or 20% of the cost of deployment, for a fast charger on Kaua‘i.

A multi-agency lawsuit claimed Volkswagen and its subsidiaries deliberately violated state and federal clean-air laws by installing devices in vehicles that falsified emissions-testing results.

“Availability of EV charging infrastructure is crucial in encouraging EV adoption and decarbonization of transportation,” said Ed Sniffen, state DOT Highways Division deputy director.

“The approval of the Kaua‘i Alternative Fuel Corridor positions our state’s clean-energy partners to improve the infrastructure support of sustainable energy,” he said.

In addition to paving the way for potential EV infrastructure funding, the AFC designation will help coordinate actions needed to effectively identify and deploy EV infrastructure across Kaua‘i.

It will also facilitate increased coordination between state and local government agencies, Hawai‘i’s businesses and social communities and incentivize vehicle dealers to increase EV availability and encourage rental-car agencies to add vehicles to their fleet.

In 2018, Hawai‘i created the Zero Emissions Clean Economy Target, which states: “Considering both atmospheric carbon and greenhouse gas emissions as well as offsets from the local sequestration of atmospheric carbon and greenhouse gases through long-term sinks and reservoirs, a statewide target is hereby established to sequester more atmospheric carbon and greenhouse gases than emitted within the State as quickly as practicable, but no later than 2045.”

Mayor Derek Kawakami welcomed the federal approval. “Electric vehicles, coupled with increased opportunities for walking, biking and transit, are at the heart of our county transportation policies,” he said.

”We greatly appreciate the strong partnerships we have to realize these objectives. This federal EV corridor designation is key to moving ahead on needed EV infrastructure for our island.”

In 2020, Hawai‘i joined with 14 other states and the District of Columbia as signatory states to the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding which, among other things, is an agreement to strive to make sales of all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in their jurisdictions zero-emission vehicles by no later than 2050.

Officials did not provide a timeline for when the signs would go up along Kaua‘i highways.

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Jessica Else, editor, can be reached at 245-0457 or jelse@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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