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Electric Vehicle Frequently Asked Questions
How do the Hawaiian Electric Companies support electric transportation?
Since 2010, Hawaiian Electric, Hawaii Electric Light, and Maui Electric have offered discount EV charging rates to encourage customers to use EVs, especially in ways that best support our grids. EV owners paid a lower rate for charging vehicles at home during off-peak hours (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.) when enrolled on these rates. They are currently close to new enrollment.
On October 2016, the Hawaiian Electric Companies, with guidance from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, began to provide a new rate, TOU-RI. This rate provides a lower rate for electricity used during daytime when solar and other renewable energy are abundant from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The rate is available to all residential customers and to residential customers wishing to install a second, separate service for EV charging only.
The Hawaiian Electric Companies are installing DC fast charging stations for public use on Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii Island to help make sure electric vehicle drivers are never caught without a place to charge. DC fast charging can “fill” an EV battery up to 80 percent of its capacity in about 30 minutes. These charging stations also provide alternatives for drivers’ whose charging needs cannot be met at home. The Hawaiian Electric Companies are also providing an industry-leading commercial pilot rate which supports public EV charging.
Additionally, the Hawaiian Electric Companies continue to research new technologies and services which may benefit EV drivers and stakeholders, as well as all our customers.
Why do the Hawaiian Electric Companies support electric vehicles?
The special rates are designed to:
- Encourage adoption of EVs and charging in ways which help with grid stability;
- Make it easier for our customers to be part of the clean energy movement ; and
- Support the State of Hawaii's goal to reduce use of oil for ground transportation as well as electricity generation.
Why should I consider an EV for my next vehicle?
EVs offer many advantages. Federal tax credits up to $7,500; less money spent on your total household energy budget; and lower maintenance make them cheaper to own or lease. The cost per mile to drive a typical EV is lower than driving a typical gasoline or diesel-powered vehicle. EVs are quick and fun to drive. They provide environmental benefits such as reduced emissions and noise. EVs can park for free in state and municipal lots and at metered parking stalls. EVs can also use high occupancy vehicle lanes with just the driver on board.
How does paying for electricity compare to paying for gasoline?
In October 2016, on Oahu, regular gasoline cost approximately $2.79 per gallon and electricity cost approximately $0.249/kWh. With these energy costs, a mid-sized internal combustion sedan with an average fuel economy of 25 miles per gallon has a fuel cost of approximately 11 cents per mile while the charging costs at home are approximately 7 cents per mile.
Taking advantage of TOU rates and charging during lowest priced hours, the EV charging cost could drop to approximately 5 cents per mile.
Are there rebates or incentives for purchasing an EV?
Currently, up to $7,500 in federal tax credit is allowed for the purchase of a qualifying EV. Vehicles with an electric vehicle license plate have certain exemptions for state and county parking as well as HOV lanes. For more details on federal & state incentives, please visit the U.S. Department of Energy web site at www.afdc.energy.gov/afdc/law or call (877) 337-3463 or visit the Energy Division of the State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism web site. Consult your personal financial advisor or tax preparer if you have questions.
Where can I get more information about a particular EV?
Please check the manufacturer's website or contact the local dealer for details about the EV you are interested in for vehicle pricing, batteries, charging specifications, safety, special programs, and other details. There are also links to EV manufacturers in our "Resources" page.
What do I need to consider before purchasing an EV?
If you are thinking of purchasing an EV, start by understanding the difference between a hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicle. Each has advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to find the one that fits your lifestyle. Things to consider are the distance of your commute and how you will charge the vehicle.
Several charging options are available. In some cases, a simple 120-volt plug-and-cord set using a standard outlet may be all you require. In other cases, you may want to purchase a faster Level 2 charger. Your EV dealer or manufacturer can help you make this decision. If you chose to install a Level 2 charging station, consult a licensed electrical contractor. As with all electrical upgrades, your county building department must approve plans and sign off when the installation is complete. More information on these topics is on our "Vehicle and Charging Basics" page.
The WattPlan for Electric Vehicles may help you better compare different electric vehicles with a conventional gas car.
Can the Hawaiian Electric Companies install an EV charger for me?
For residential service, the Hawaiian Electric Companies can only provide necessary service on the utility side of the meter. Please consult a licensed electrician for additional electrical work.
Under a pilot project, the Hawaiian Electric Companies have installed public DC fast charging stations at sites which may best assist EV drivers and the commercial site. Interested commercial customers should contact the GoEV program at 808-543-4638 (GoEV) [NEED HLT NUMBER] or GoEV@hawaiielectriclight.com.
Can my business provide charging to customers or employees?
Any business can provide charging to customers or employees for a fee or as a service. If your business wishes to do so, please consult a licensed electrical contractor.
What are time-of-use rates?
With TOU rates, you pay less per kilowatt-hour during times which best serve the grid and more when electricity demand is higher. This is to incentivize customers to shift their EV charging to times when electric demand is low, when there is excess electricity generation available, which helps us operate more efficiently, which may enable the integration of more renewables, and keep your costs down.
How do electric vehicle charging rates work?
Rate Schedule TOU-RI replaces your existing meter with a TOU electric meter to measure your home electricity use and EV charging at different times of day. Alternatively, customers owning EVs may install a second metered service at their place of residence for EV charging only under Schedule TOU-RI. The lower Mid-Day rates are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Rates are higher during other times of day to provide an incentive to charge during the Mid-Day and shift typical energy usage to the Mid-Day.
Residential customers who feel they may benefit from TOU rates should visit our Time-of-Use enrollment page for additional information on how to sign up.
If I am a Net Energy Metering (NEM) customer, can I continue to use NEM on the TOU rate?
Yes, enrolling on a TOU rate does not change your NEM status. Any excess power you send from your renewable energy installation (like solar panels) will be credited to your account at the same rate you would pay if you took power from the grid at that time. Customers providing excess power under during the mid-day TOU-RI will be credited at the lower Mid-Day rate.
What will the Hawaiian Electric Companies charge for my new meter?
If you enroll in TOU-RI for the household, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, or Hawaii Electric Light will replace your existing meter with a time-of-use meter at NO charge. An additional monthly fee of $1.50 for residential customers will be applied to your bill to cover additional operating costs associated with time-of-use rate.
Under TOU-RI, there is no additional fee for residential customers adding a second meter for EV charging only. Customers without a utility bill (such as tenants of a master metered condominium) may install a new metered service for EV charging only at their place of residence. These customers will be subject to a $9 monthly customer charge for this new account.
Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, or Hawaii Electric Light will install a new time-of-use meter at NO charge.
Can I get a copy of the electric vehicle rates?
All Hawaiian Electric Companies' rate sheets or tariffs are available on-line here.
What kind of EVs qualify for the EV rates?
Currently, only customers requesting for separately metered EV service under TOU-RI need to be qualified. The account holder must provide proof of ownership of an eligible EV, having a battery with a capacity that is four kilowatt-hours or larger, and are qualified to drive on public streets, roads and highways. The new meter will not be installed until all required permits are approved.
Hybrids that do not plug-in to recharge their batteries do not qualify. Neither do "neighborhood EVs" (NEVs) and medium-speed electric vehicles (MSEVs) which the U.S. Department of Transportation classify as low-speed vehicles, not exceeding speeds of 35 miles per hour.