Hawaii is one of my favorite places. I love the local customs, the racially diverse society, the local food, and the weather is the best in the world. Sometimes, though, the local politics drives me a bit crazy.
Hawaii is gaga over electric vehicles. They have something called The Honolulu Clean Cities Coalition (HCC), a non profit organization dedicated to reducing petroleum use in the transportation sector in Hawaii by advocating electric cars. Oh, yes….it’s funded by the feds.
Here’s the problem. Electric cars in Hawaii run on oil. This makes them both expensive to purchase and expensive to operate. And they have those nasty difficult to dispose of batteries. Hawaii gets most of its electricity by burning oil. Electric cars are only clean and environmentally friendly if their electrical source is clean and environmentally preferred. The state is spending millions in federal, state and local subsidies to burn oil to make electricity to put into an auto…when they could skip the middle man and simply buy a gasoline vehicle.
There are federal and local subsidies here, there, and everywhere. Without the subsidies, Hawaii would not have the program they have….and the citizens of the state would be better off. They would have lower taxes and a cleaner environment.
Most electricity in Honolulu is produced by either oil or coal. Even the natural gas used in the state is a manufactured process that starts out as oil. There is a small amount of wind, a still under construction bio-fuels plant, and a rapidly growing Solar power generation program complete with Federal and State subsidies.
2012 was a banner year for Solar power in Honolulu. The state subsidy (35%) went away on December 31, 2012 and people rushed to cash in. The state revenue commissioner is not pleased. He’s having trouble finding funds to offset the loss in tax revenue that Hawaii’s 35% credit caused.
Hawaiian Electric has special rates for electric vehicles. If you pay $1.50 a month, you can get a sophisticated meter that allows you to pay rates based upon time of day. The rates encourage people to charge their cars at night which causes more oil to be burned because the main green alternative, Solar, is not available.
Honolulu’s typical rate is right around $.40 cents per kilowatt hour. You could be paying as little as $.34 or as much as $.45. The National average is a bit less than $.12. The rate applies to all electricity used in the house, so it is really important not to use much juice in the evening. The rate is a few cents higher on the other islands.
Let’s start by being optimistic…we’ll use 35 cents per kilowatt hour as a base price. Next we add 20% or 7 cents per kilowatt hour to cover the losses in the charging and battery system. In my last post I calculated a cost of 7.2 cents for the 220 V charging system, but I think I was a bit high, so we’ll just add 5 cents here. That makes the cost of electricity in the vehicle 47 cents per kilowatt hour.
Now we must make an assumption on the cost of gasoline. Yesterday I bought gasoline at a Costco in Honolulu for $3.999 per gallon. If we pay 47 cents per kilowatt hour, how many miles would we have to go to spend $4.00 on fuel?
The EPA says the Leaf will go 2.94 miles per kilowatt. At 47 cents per kilowatt that equals 47/2.94 or 15.99 cents per mile or 4.0/.1599 or 25 miles per gallon equivalent.
If I happen to fill up at a peak time I use 45*1.2+5 or 59 cents per kilowatt hour. That math looks like this 59/2.94 or 20.06 cents per mile or 4/.201 or 19.9 miles per gallon equivalent. Most economy cars on the road in Hawaii do better than that. The Nissan Altima I am driving is averaging a about 2o.5 miles per gallon.
When an electric car uses oil based electricity it pollutes more than a modern efficient gasoline vehicle. Hawaii would be better off dumping the entire Electric car program. Gasoline cars are cheaper, cleaner burning and they don’t have those nasty Lithium Ion Battery packs.
The EPA and Hawaiian Electric try to make Electric cars sound like a good deal…and the locals here have installed over 200 electric charging stations…buying into the program. The EPA could be right in a place with very low electricity prices, but there’s no way this statement by Hawaiian Electric is true
Switching to electric vehicles will use substantially less oil at lower cost to reach the same level of mobility, even if oil is used in the production of electricity.
Come on guys, tell the truth…we can take it.