Legislature passes bill to extend Hawaii EV charging station rebate program

May 5, 2021 - Hawaii’s electric vehicle charging station rebate program has received new life with the Legislature’s passage of House Bill 1142, which sets aside part of the state’s barrel tax to fund it.

According to the bill, which was championed by the chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, Rep. Nicole Lowen, over 70 charging stations have been established, or are in the works, through the program.

As it stands, the program, which Hawaii Energy has run since 2019, has no money left. It is meant to make EV use a viable choice for people with low- to middle-incomes who don’t have access to vehicle chargers at home or at work.

The measure awaits Gov. David Ige’s signature and would go into effect on July 1.

Melissa Miyashiro, managing director of strategy and policy for environmental advocacy group Blue Planet Foundation, told Pacific Business News she is hopeful Ige will sign the “important” bill.

“In the near term, [passage of the bill] means that it will be more affordable for Hawaii businesses and apartment buildings to install EV charging for their customers and residents,” Miyashiro wrote in an email. “And in the long term, it means that we’re preparing Hawaii for the influx of EVs that we expect to see as the auto industry makes announcement after announcement about the pivot to electric transportation.

“While most EV owners charge their cars at home, that isn’t a viable option for many residents that live in apartment buildings,” she added. “This is a fundamental equity issue in Hawaii because so many residents live in multi-family housing, in part because single-family homes are financially out of reach.”

The rebate, as currently configured, offers $4,500 per new multi-charger Level 2 station where one did not exist, or $35,000 per DC fast-charger where done did not exist, and $3,000 or $28,000 for replacements of existing stations, respectively.

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