Fill up with solar power, please | News, Sports, Jobs
On Thursday, the new electric vehicle charging station in front of the Kalana O Maui Building was blessed as a symbol of Maui County’s commitment to a greener future. This new charger complements others already installed at Maui County Service
Center on Hookele Street in Kahului, the Lahaina Aquatic Center and the new South Maui Gym. Residents can enjoy free vehicle fees on a first-come, first-served basis during a two-month introductory period ending August 12.
Other EV charging stations currently being installed include Lahaina Civic Center, Kihei Aquatic Center, Paia Community Center, Haiku Community Center, Hannibal Tavares Community Center in Pukalani, Eddie Tam Memorial Gym in Makawao, Papohaku Park in Wailuku and the Hana Community Center. Two chargers will be installed on Molokai at Kualapuu Community Center and Cooke Memorial Pool. One is coming to the Lanai Community Center soon. Additional locations will be identified as part of our energy saving contract with Johnson Controls. We are planning additional future locations with partners Hawaiian Electric Co. and the Hawaii Department of Transportation.
Creating a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations is a small but important step towards achieving energy independence within the next two decades. But we cannot make this transition alone. It requires an ongoing partnership between federal, state, and local agencies working with the private and nonprofit sectors. Individuals must also do their part to ensure a clean transport future.
The state of Hawaii is making good progress toward its goal of using 100 percent clean energy by 2045. Switching ground transportation to electricity from renewable sources will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mainly carbon dioxide) from burning fossil fuels in our vehicles. The recent surge in gas prices is a crude reminder of the urgency of this transition. Hawaii is particularly vulnerable to disruptions in petroleum imports due to unforeseen events well beyond our control.
Last weekend I spoke at the impartial Climate Mayors Leadership Summit in Reno, Nevada. Mayors are on the front lines of any crisis, so we had to overcome the dangers of underpreparation when the pandemic hit. We must not make the same mistake in a worsening climate crisis.
Mayors manage the emergency response to any natural disaster. I was struck by the climate mayors’ consensus that we are already in a crisis. Not a single mayor believes climate change is a hoax, a political tactic, or an imagined future threat. Every day the news reports about the serious impacts of climate change around the world. Make no mistake, it’s here, right now.
Crisis prevention is expensive. Most mayors are bolstering tight budgets with creative solutions to help their communities prepare for an uncertain future. For example, Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, Texas, expects his city to have 65,000 electric vehicles by 2030. Unless the city adds more than 2,000 new public-access charging stations, there won’t be enough places to charge EV batteries. To solve this problem, Houston is combining funds from the Volkswagen emissions control scheme with federal funds to install roadside charging stations for electric vehicles at utility poles where on-street parking is permitted.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas launched an initiative to eliminate public bus tickets. His city’s workforce saves money and fuel while reducing traffic and greenhouse gas emissions. Small cities like Santa Fe are also investing. Mayor Alan Webber is leading a program designed to help homeowners overcome financial barriers to installing solar power. His city buys solar systems in bulk and passes the savings on to its citizens. Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said her city is on track to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by the end of this decade. Their strategies include incentivizing EV ownership and getting rid of gas guzzlers. Reno is also electrifying its vehicle fleet and bus system, similar to what we plan to do for Maui County.
Achieving energy independence by phasing out imported fossil fuels is critical to our future. The County of Maui must address multiple climate priorities while advancing our people and economy. During Thursday’s blessing ceremony, we humbly asked for divine help in caring for our environment. Maui Nui needs your help too.
* “Our District” a column by Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino discusses county government affairs and activities. The column changes as well “3 Minutes of Council” every other weekend.