Maui Business

DOE Awards Maui $300,000 for Electric Vehicle Planning

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By Sonia Isotov

Electric vehicle plugged in. File photo.

The Department of Energy has awarded nearly $300,000 to University of Hawaiʻi Maui College—in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT)—to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in Hawaii.

On September 8, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the Clean Cities Initiative Awards, identifying 16 projects from 24 states and the District of Columbia. According to the DOE, the one-year projects will help communities address their specific needs, which include updating permitting processes, revising codes, training municipal personnel, and promoting public awareness.

“These projects will help reduce our nation’s dependence on oil imports, create jobs, and help America capture the growing global market for advanced vehicles,” said Secretary Chu.

UHMC. Photo by Wendy Osher.


UHMC was the only college or university that received a community planning grant in this initiative.

“Our strategy,” says Susan Wyche, UHMC Special Projects Coordinator, in a written statement today, “is to capitalize on Maui’s unique features that will support the mass adoption of electric vehicles, such as our short driving distances, high cost of gasoline, and the large number of of rental vehicles that make up our vehicle population. Our goal is to have the highest EV ownership per capita in the world, and to combine that with the greatest percentage of fossil free sources to charge those EVs. Maui will serve as a case study for other islands in Hawaii, and the world.”

The strategy required extensive recruiting of partners willing to dedicate personnel time to the planning process. Over 30 partners will participate, including car rental companies and car dealers, resort hotels, utility companies, local and state environmental agencies, organizations with large vehicle fleets, and renewable energy producers. In addition, UHMC will be consulting with the University of California San Diego and San Diego Regional Clean Fuels Coalition, which have been national leaders in developing renewable energy resources, innovative policies, and studies on consumer use of electric vehicles.

Photo Credit :

File photo.


“We worked with UH Maui College to get this grant because Maui is an ideal location for EV adoption.  Maui attracts some two million visitors per year, and 85% of these use rental cars. Visitors and local people can test drive the cars; this will help them decide whether they would like to become EV owners. Many Maui resorts are putting in charging stations, so the infrastructure will be available. And EVs can be plugged in at night to use Maui-generated wind energy, which is usually most available in the evenings,” said Estrella Seese, acting administrator of DBEDT’s Energy Office, in a written statement from the department.

According to a news release issued today, work on the project will begin in October and coincides with other energy projects that UHMC is kicking off this fall, including a recently-signed contract with Johnson Controls to install a campus-wide energy management system, create an energy efficient chilling plant, and retrofit the campus buildings to improve energy use. There are also plans to cover part of the college’s large parking lot with solar carports, some equipped with electric vehicle charging stations.

The UH Maui College as numerous partners on its Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance (EVA) Project:

State of Hawaiʻi, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT)


Better Place

Castle and Cooke

CATRALA (Car & Truck Rental Association)

Chevron Energy Solutions

County of Maui, Office of Economic Development

Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Enterprise Holdings)

Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa

GreenCar Hawaii

Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association (HADA)

Hawaiʻi Electricians Training Fund, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)

Hawaiʻi Energy and Technology

Hawaiʻi Natural Energy Institute (HNEI)

Hawaiʻi Renewable Energy Development Venture

Hawaiʻi Electric Company (HECO)

Hertz Rent-A-Car (The Hertz Corporation)

High Tech Development Corporation Manufacturing Extension Partnership (HTDC-MEP)

HNU Energy

Honolulu Clean Cities (HCC)

Honua Kai Resort and Spa’

Jim Falk Autogroup

Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB)

Maui Economic Opportunity, Inc.

Maui Electric Company (MECO)

Maui Hotel & Lodging Association

Rising Sun Solar

San Diego Regional Clean Fuels Coalition

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

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