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Hawaii Electric, Better Place sign deal on electric cars


HONOLULU – Gov. Linda Lingle and Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Better Place, unveiled a plan Tuesday, Dec. 2 to bring an electric car network to Hawaii, creating a model for the adoption of electric cars in the U.S.

The move – only the second of its kind announced in the nation – will help fuel Hawaii’s drive to lead the nation in renewable energy use, create jobs locally, while also helping to secure our energy future.

“Attracting investments into the state is a major component of our Five-Point Action Plan to help stimulate the economy,” Lingle said. “Today’s announcement is a significant move towards our state gaining independence from foreign oil. This public-private partnership is exactly the type of investment we have been working on as we continue to carry out our Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), moving toward the goal of 70 percent clean energy for the State of Hawaii. It highlights the importance we place on finding innovative ways to attract investments in energy technology.”

Better Place plans to begin permitting for the network within the next year and begin introducing vehicles within 18 months, with mass-market availability of electric cars in 2012. Hawaii joins Israel, Denmark, Australia and California in its commitment to deploying the world’s first electric car networks.

Hawaii spends up to $7 billion a year on oil imports and drivers pay some of the highest gasoline prices in the nation – accounting for nearly 20 percent of the state’s green house gases (GHG). Building the infrastructure for widespread adoption of electric vehicles will not only stimulate the local economy and reduce carbon emissions, but also provide a more affordable transportation option for Hawaii’s drivers.

“Hawaii, with its ready access to renewable energy resources like solar, wind, wave and geothermal, is the ideal location to serve as a blue print for the rest of the U.S. in terms of reducing our dependence on foreign oil, growing our renewable energy portfolio and creating an infrastructure that will stabilize our economy,” Agassi said. “Hawaii has made the commitment to breaking its dependence on foreign oil, and is leading the way in addressing the most important economic and energy issues facing us today.”

Hawaiian Electric Companies and Better Place Hawaii signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate on the infrastructure and energy sources to power Better Place’s unique network of public charging spots and battery swapping stations with renewable energy.

The partnership capitalizes on Better Place’s innovative business model and Hawaii’s abundant renewable energy resources to deliver the large-scale deployment of electrical vehicles throughout the state.

“Hawaiian Electric is proud to be the first utility in the United States to sign an agreement with Better Place,” said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president. “It is clear that to reach the very progressive goals of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, it will take changes not just in the way we make and use electricity, but in the way we move around our islands.

“The Better Place plan will provide immediate benefits to consumers and encourage the addition of more renewable energy resources to our grid, an essential element of HCEI. Because Better Place will manage when vehicles are recharged, they can provide a market for renewable energy output in off-peak hours when it might otherwise not be needed,” Alm said.

The arrival of Better Place Hawaii furthers the progress of the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI) signed in January – with the goal to meet the state’s energy needs from 70 percent clean energy by 2030, as well as fostering economic growth and building the workforce of the future.

“While oil prices have recently come down from their historic highs, we believe this volatility highlights the urgency for a transformation to renewable energies,” said Ted Liu, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. “As we begin to break our addiction to foreign oil, we will be a model for the rest of the nation and the world.”

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4 Responses to “Hawaii Electric, Better Place sign deal on electric cars”

  1. damon says:

    I’ve been a bit concerned about this project.

    Who can afford to buy a new battery that in my guesstimation may cost upwards of $300.00 – $500.00 per battery.

    What is going to be done with all the old batteries once the charge is lost and they can’t be recharged anymore?

  2. Karin says:

    Damon – Pete Cooper, the Better Place guy in Honolulu, said they will offer contracts, similar to cell phones contracts, where you sign up for miles/charges/minutes. Better Place owns the batteries, you just charge ’em up. About three hours for a full re-charge. If that is too long to wait, stop in at the swap-station, like an automated car wash that switches out a depleted battery for a full one. Takes about as long as a car wash, too. – Karin

  3. damon says:

    Did Mr. Cooper say how much one of these contracts run… and what that long term price turns out to be after 5 years of owning the car?

    Say you wreck the car after a year… are you still paying this contract?

    What is the price after a few years? Who maintains and fixes the cars?

    Where will Better Place be disposing of these batteries after the charge won’t hold a charge any longer? (Which Third World Country will accept them for a little kala?)

    There is a lot of kinks to work out… and I wouldn’t mind being one of the guinea pigs… as long as they provided everything for free. ;)

    “Swap Stations”… Where are these going to be located on the Big Island?


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