Age Of The Electric Car Moves Closer To Reality

Wednesday - April 14, 2010
By Mike Gabbard
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How’s this for an interesting piece of trivia? The first car that arrived in Hawaii in October 1898 was a Woods Electric owned by Henry P. Baldwin.

I was on Energy Futures,a live call-in radio show on Hawaii Public Radio hosted by Donalyn Dela Cruz, last month to discuss future plans and legislation I introduced to help push for the purchase of electric vehicles. Other guests were Mark Piscioneri, Oahu manager of Hawaii Electric Vehicles, and Maria Tome, transportation and renewable energy program manager for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Last year, as Energy and Environment chairman, I worked on laws that helped set the stage for a large-scale introduction of plug-in electric vehicles. Act 156 set aside 1 percent of parking spaces for electric vehicles in parking lots totaling more than 100 stalls; Act 114 authorized $45 million in special-purpose revenue bonds so that Better Place can put in necessary infrastructure, such as charging stations for electric vehicles.


This year I authored SB 2231, which helps attract electric vehicles and electric-vehicle infrastructure to our state by giving companies and car dealers a general excise tax exemption for the sale or lease of electric vehicles or electric vehicle charging stations.

Estimates are that plug-in electrics, which will be coming online in the next few years, will cost roughly $30,000. With SB 2231 enacted, there would be a $1,350 general excise tax credit per car and a federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The exemption would start in July 2010 and extend until the end of 2014.

To give you an idea where we are right now, there are fewer than 200 plug-in electric vehicles in the state. However, only about 30 of those cars are equivalent to what you and I are driving. The rest of them are the neighborhood electric vehicles that don’t go over 25 miles per hour. We’re hoping to see major car makers start shipping electric vehicles to Hawaii on a larger scale starting by the end of this year.

Kudos to some developers who are stepping up as well. In Kapolei, Gentry has partnered with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands on the Kanehili project. This development includes 300 “green” homes that have electric vehicle chargers in the garages. They already have 120 built, and the rest are coming soon.

I’m hopeful we can get SB 2231 passed into law this session. The bill passed the Senate and is now working its way through the House.

Please contact my office at 586-6830 if you’d like to weigh in on this important legislation.

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