OpConnect EV Charging Station near Foodland in Maui

OpConnect Hawaii and Hawaii Energy recently launched a pilot program to encourage residents with photovoltaic (PV) systems to charge their electric vehicles (EV) during off-peak demand hours from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in an effort to shift electricity loads.

Hawaii Energy, the ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program serving Hawaii, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu, is aiming to find out at what price PV customers would be willing to charge their EVs during the day when renewable energy is most abundant.  This would shift EV charging electric loads to off-peak demand hours rather than peak hours from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. when the majority of residents return home and usually start charging.

In order to qualify for the pilot, participants need to be a verified Net Energy Metering (NEM) customer, meaning they must have an approved photovoltaic system connected at his/her residence. 

To receive the 60 percent discount, participants are required to follow these steps:  1) Sign up to become a free OpConnect member online (http://bit.ly/1CbmGA8), and add funds for future charges.  2) Participants will receive an email to verify their electric utility account.  3) Once verified, participants enter their member number when charging their EVs.  The discount will be automatically applied at the end of the charging session.  For questions, email HEpilot@opconnect.com

OpConnect charging stations are located throughout Hawaii Island, Maui and Oahu (station locator map: http://bit.ly/opcmap).  The 60 percent discount is available until May 31 or while funding lasts.

“OpConnect members are early adopters of new technologies that will help them reduce their environmental footprint, while also saving them money, whether that is from driving electric vehicles or incorporating solar energy into their homes,” said Dexter Turner, CEO of OpConnect Hawaii.  “We are excited to work with Hawaii Energy in bringing the two clean technologies together in one project.” 

“We look forward to the pilot results that can provide valuable insights about what incentives are needed to change the charging habits of EV drivers,” said Joe Simpkins, Program Operations Manager, Hawaii Energy.  “With effective behavioral change, this could be a successful load-shifting strategy to reduce peak demand on the electrical grid.”

According to a recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), solar power has grown exponentially in Hawaii over the last five years, particularly in Oahu.  About 12 percent of Oahu residents have rooftop solar, compared to the U.S. average of 0.50 percent.

OpConnect is the largest provider of electric vehicle charging stations in Hawaii with more than 200 charging spots available at sites on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.  OpConnect’s electric vehicle charging stations have prevented more than 250 metric tons of greenhouse gases over the last year. With more than 2,600 registered EVs in Hawaii, OpConnect operates the state’s largest charging network. The EIA reports that Hawaii is only second to California in the number of EVs registered in the state.  According to EIA, 4.2 out of every 1,000 registered light cars and trucks in Hawaii are electric vehicles.

Hawaii Energy also launched a pilot earlier this year to help EV drivers save energy.  Energy-saving kits were distributed for free to new EV drivers at participating Oahu car dealerships.  The program also developed an educational website (ev.hawaiienergy.com) with information about the benefits of EVs, different makes and models, fuel and cost savings and buying considerations.