LIHU‘E — U.S. Department of Energy has announced that Honolulu and Kaua‘i have been selected as part of the agency’s Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project and statewide electric vehicle group leaders are applauding the actions of Senator Brian Schatz, who has helped forward the initiative.
Kaua‘i Electric Vehicle’s president Sonja Kass said KauaiEV and Hawaii Electric Vehicle Association are hoping to collaborate with the project when the time comes.
“We tried to apply for a grant to do exactly that a year ago,” Kass said. “We didn’t get the match funds. But that’s exactly what we were trying to accomplish. Because Kaua‘i is so ideal for a demonstration, it can be done. We can completely electrifying other places. For example, in Europe, Norway, and the Netherlands, demonstration — it’s completely possible.”
HawaiiEV’s president Noel Morin said the initiative is a “long overdue” step in a transition toward cleaner energy.
“I think that any type of investment or project that can help us understand better what we need to do to be able to transition to a clean energy future, would be, achieving our RPS goals sooner than later,” Morin said. “And also achieving the decarbonization of transportation, essentially shifting away from fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles.”
HawaiiEV is a chapter of the Electric Auto Association, a volunteer, a non-profit organization that was established in 1967 and is focused on the expansion of Electric Vehicles across the state.
“So we focus on education, and we also work on policy,” Morin said. “So we work with local and state legislators to enable policies that are friendly, increasing the adoption of EVs across the state.”
The DOE will provide federal assistance to bolster their transportation and electric grid infrastructure, reduce the risk of outages, and improve their future energy and economic outlook. ETIPP is designed for remote and island communities, which often face high energy costs and vulnerable energy infrastructure due to their geographic isolation and increased risk of climate-induced natural disasters.
With help from DOE’s ETIPP, Honolulu and Kaua‘i will leverage the world-class expertise of DOE’s experts and national labs to advance local clean energy solutions and improve resilience. ETIPP prioritizes a community-led and inclusive approach by identifying the energy challenges of each community and providing strategic assistance to help them determine and direct their energy transition.
“For our island state that has long depended on imported oil, a clean energy future means resiliency and economic security. I want to thank the Department of Energy for selecting two Hawai‘i communities for the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project. These projects address two of the most important steps in achieving our goal to become carbon negative by 2045—clean transportation and grid improvements,” said Schatz.
The selected communities in Hawai‘i include an initiative to harden electrical infrastructure from the threat of severe weather in Honolulu. The Honolulu project is also set to develop a hybrid microgrid opportunity map to understand how distributed grids can support resilience at the micro and macro levels.
On Kaua‘i, the ETIPP will explore alternative and autonomous mobility options for its residents and tourists to move away from fossil-fuel-powered single-occupancy vehicles and toward a modern, clean transportation system.
According to Morin, this is an ideal starting point for Kaua‘i and Honolulu. He said he views it as a pilot program.
“A learning opportunity, where the lessons gleaned from that can then be applied to other counties,” Morin said. “I’m actually very enthused and very supportive of these projects. And I’m glad to see that it’s coming together.”
The County of Kaua‘i’s Office of Economic Development’s specialist Ben Sullivan said the ETIPP program provides technical support from the national energy labs to help communities address energy resilience challenges.
“Kaua‘i has clear community-based guidance in the Kaua‘i General Plan, the Kaua‘i Tourism Strategic Plan, and the Kaua‘i Destination Management Action Plan to shift to a more multimodal land transportation system,” Sullivan said. “This opportunity through ETIPP will help us to explore how some emerging innovations in transportation might be applied to visitor transportation on (the) island. This includes looking at car sharing, shuttle systems, improved mobility data, and other solutions to give people more choices about how they might get around the island without contributing to traffic and ever-increasing energy consumption.”
Source: The Garden Island