REPORT FROM HAWAII COUNTY – The County of Hawai‘i is ready to roll out its new electric vehicle fleet. Mayor Billy Kenoi will have the honor of plugging in one of the five 2012 Chevy Volt Hybrid Electric Vehicles at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24 at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center. The vehicles will be blessed during this event.

These plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are a great fit for Hawai‘i County, where trips can be as long as 200 miles one way. For trips under 30 miles, the vehicles can run solely on battery power charged by the West Hawai‘i Civic Center’s photovoltaic array. A gasoline-powered generator with a nine-gallon tank will allow an additional range of 300-400 miles, depending on topography.

Based on their past usage of County vehicles, it is anticipated that the new vehicles will be issued to the Departments of Parks and Recreation, Planning, and the Office of Housing and Community Development. The other vehicles are scheduled to be assigned to the Mayor’s Office and available for official use by any department. These vehicles are black and feature electric-vehicle license plates. They will be marked with the required County seal.

While each vehicle costs $47,000, the County will offset that price with a $4,500 credit per car through the state’s EV-Ready rebate program. The cost of each vehicle also includes a bumper-to-bumper warranty for seven years.

Hawai‘i Island pays some of the highest fuel costs in the United States. In fiscal year 2011, the County’s transportation fuel bill was $7 million. These prices are likely to rise in the future, so making this transition to more efficient vehicles will help control these escalating costs.

Prior to purchase of the vehicles, the county received a grant from Better Place Inc. to have three charging stations installed at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center. Each charging station can handle two electric vehicles at a time. The Chevy Volt typically takes 3.5 hours for full charge. Available charging stations will be open for public use during regular business hours.

The photovoltaic array at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center has the capability to provide energy to the building and charge up to 30 EVs or 60 PHEVs. It is anticipated that additional charging stations will be added to maximize the use of the 250 kW photovoltaic array.

An October 2011 report issued by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “Evaluation of West Hawai‘i Civic Center’s Transportation and Energy Use,” supports with economic analysis the integration of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles into the County fleet. The County has also worked with HELCO to coordinate vehicle deployment as well as charging station infrastructure.

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