Hawai‘i is a major testing ground for green energy, and according to thinkprogress.org, the state has the highest solar penetration in the nation. It is already home to more than 1,250 plug-in electric vehicles (EV).
At WCC, students, faculty and staff who drive EVs receive perks on and off campus. “EV owners can park their cars in the EV parking stalls on campus and recharge their batteries with no charge fees,” said WCC safety and security manager Rick Murray.
WCC is one of the only campuses on the island that covers the bill for owners who charge their EVs. Murray said he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. The campus has two EV parking stalls, located in the lower parking lot.
According to state law, gas vehicles that illegally park in EV stalls can be fined up to $100. State law also gives EV owners the privilege to park for free (though not necessarily charge for free) in hundreds of locations, such as in state and county lots, at the airport (24-hour limit), at street meters (2.5-hour limit) and in the lower campus parking structure at UH Mānoa. They also have access to high occupancy vehicles (HOV) lanes.
While EVs come with more privileges than gas vehicles, charging stations are not always free or user-friendly. Some charging stations are membership-only, limiting where EV owners can charge—and drive. The driving range on a Nissan Leaf is 73 miles, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That will take you on a one-way trip from Honolulu to Bonzai Pipeline.
Currently, there are 11 businesses that operate public EV charging stations in Hawai‘i. Some charge users; others provide the service for free. Privately-owned company Oppconnect operates the charging stations in the UH Mānoa lower campus parking structure and charges $2 per hour.
But at WCC, charging is free–justanother example of how the windward side has more benefits than the cool, breezy weather.
by Zachary Rupp-Smith, Ka ‘Ohana Co-Editor in Chief