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Maui No Ka 'Oi Magazine January-February 2016 - January-February 2016
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Maui EVA & the Smart Grid

No, that’s not the name of a hot new garage band, but it just might be the start of an energy revolution.

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Custom cars with yellow-and-black flame jobs, open-top cruisers, and brilliant-hued classics pack the Great Lawn of the University of Hawaii Maui College at a nighttime event highlighting the school’s auto technology program. Several-hundred car enthusiasts stand proudly by their rides, while bass lines and drums from a live band vibrate air and ground. I sit tucked into the darkened backseat of a Chevy Volt — one of only two electric vehicles (EVs) at the show — talking with a different kind of enthusiast. Unlike the hot-rod owners, who spend weekends and hard-earned cash on paint jobs and supersized mufflers, my host cares less about what’s on the outside than what makes this car go. Surrounded by the old-school party outside, it feels almost conspiratorial — a meeting with one of an elite club, plotting a revolution to change the existing power structure — literally, the energy that fuels our cars and keeps the lights on.

Getting Maui off imported oil can’t come quickly enough. Even though foreign oil provides an estimated 85 percent of the island’s electricity, Maui’s relatively small market puts Maui Electric Company at the mercy of global price fluctuations in oil. Hawaii’s consumers feel the pain not only at the pump but every month with the highest electricity rates in the country.

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where to charge your ev

In your home:
You can plug your EV into any regular home circuit using a 240V plug.

At public charging stations:
For locations around the island, see www.evcarrentals.com/mauievchargestations.htm.

Types of chargers:
120V: Uses chargers that come with the vehicle
240V: Plugs directly into a dryer-type outlet
480V: This fast charger is not yet available on Maui.

EV Availability

Electric Vehicles Available Now on Maui

Models Energy Source Range Using
(Electric only/Hybrid)
Charge Time (Voltage)
Nissan Leaf Electric 62  138 mi 7 hrs (240V)/30 min (480V)
Chevy Volt Plug-in Hybrid 35/379 mi 4hrs (240V)
Toyota Plug-in Hybrid 14-475 mi 1.5 hrs (240V)

Power-saving tips

Don't want to wait for the grid to smarten up?

Jim Whitcomb, of Haleakala Solar, offers energy-saving steps you can take right now.

  1. Install a solar water heater; you’ll reduce electricity or gas consumption by 30 to 40 percent.
  2. Add a solar-powered fan that expels hot air from your attic and lowers the need for air conditioning.
  3. Install a photovoltaic system at your home or business; it can produce enough energy for most of your needs.

The electricity your PV system generates feeds into the grid. Each month, the utility credits you for the amount generated, up to the amount you use. If your system produces more energy than you consume in a month, a net credit carries forward. It’s like having the electric meter run backwards.

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