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Jun
2021
30

Ige signs bills for electric transportation

HONOLULU — Ground transportation accounts for nearly a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the state.

Last week, Gov. David Ige signed three bills that accelerate the electrification of transportation at Central Middle School, to complement ongoing efforts to reduce emissions from ground transportation.

State Rep. Nadine Nakamura, who represents Hanalei, Princeville, Kilauea, Anahola, Kapa‘a and Wailua, said to address climate change the state must transition from fossil fuel to electric-powered vehicles.

“I’m excited about these bills because the government must lead by example,” Nakamura said.

House Bill 552 calls for the replacement of all light-duty motor vehicles at state agencies with a zero-emission fleet by Dec. 31, 2035.

HB424 requires all agencies of the state, when renting a vehicle on behalf of a state employee conducting official business, to adopt a preference for renting electric vehicles or hybrid vehicles, provided that such vehicles are suited for the specific travel requirements and available when needed.

HB1142 allocates three cents of the barrel tax to fund the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. It establishes a subaccount in the state Public Utilities Commission special fund for the EV-charging-system-rebate program.

“With the signing of these bills, the governor is demonstrating the state’s commitment to decarbonizing its fleets, leading the way for the private sector to do the same,” said state Rep. Nicole Lowen, chair of the House Committee on Energy &Environmental Protection.

“And this will also save the state money as the cost to own and operate EVs” goes down, she said. “I’m very grateful for the governor’s support of these bills, which took the work of many hands for many years to bring to fruition.”

State Department of Transportation Deputy Director of the Highways Division Ed Sniffen said the department supports the efforts to reduce the use of fossil fuels in ground transportation.

“At a time when atmospheric carbon-dioxide measurements at Mauna Loa are at a historical high and when we anticipate global warming and one-meter sea-level rise by 2100, we need to do better,” Sniffen said.

Sniffen said the signed bills “reinforce the state’s ambitious clean-energy goals.”

“We appreciate his (Ige’s) leadership and the foresight of the state Legislature in supporting clean transportation,” Sniffen said. “HDOT’s goal is to convert or eliminate the internal-combustion engines within our light-duty fleet within seven years.”

State Rep. Tina Wildberger, who represents Kihei, Wailea and Makena on Maui, was the primary introducer of HB424.

“I am thrilled to see HB424 make it through the entire legislative process this year,” said Wildberger, vice chair of the House Governmental Reform Committee.

“Everything we can do to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions should be everyone’s goal,” she said. “This measure will help encourage the rental-car companies to invest in electric vehicles and know there is (the) market share that will rent them. State employees rent a lot of vehicles on state business. This will help us pivot to an electrified transportation system in Hawai‘i,” she said.

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Stephanie Shinno, education and business reporter, can be reached at 245-0424