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Shifting Gears… and Paradigms

These things take time and planning.

November 17, 2011
Debra Lordan - Editor/General Manager , The Maui Weekly

"Open your mind to the car that challenges the status quo," reads an ad for the teeny-tiny, 100 percent electric Smart Car. The catchphrase certainly encapsulates a valid marketing angle. As this technology rolls out into an "alternate future," our old mindset about personal transportation will no doubt be challenged and expanded.

The energy industry also faces a major shift in technology requiring major investments-and coming at a time of little to no economic growth. Power producers are faced with the chicken-and-egg dilemma: Should they lay out capital for charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs) that may or may not appear? And they face issues of when and how much to invest in a context of rapidly changing technologies.

And on the consumer end, there exists uncertainty about the risk of purchasing electric vehicles that may or may not have charging stations available to them away from home.

Although motorists seem to think-and drive-as if their cars are autonomous, independent entities, the fact is, they require a complete, complex and expansive infrastructure, including service and parts businesses, gas stations, refineries (ours are located in Honolulu), massive tankers and more-not to mention the cost of national security and the tally of lives sacrificed by our men and women in the military.

This infrastructure, which has become virtually invisible to us, gradually developed, beginning even before the first Model T rolled off Henry Ford's production line over a hundred years ago.

The implementation of EVs into our society will also involve broad and substantive change to our community's infrastructure, including, but not limited to, technological changes, a paradigm shift in personal behavior, and government and utility policies. Such widespread change necessitates the concerted planning that the Maui Electric Vehicle Alliance (Maui EVA) will provide.

Although EVs require a different infrastructure, it is one that will include many long-term benefits for our community, including a clean energy economy with new businesses, new jobs and an improved quality of life.

More EVs on the road will mean less use of imported oil, a great contribution to the state's 70 percent clean energy goal.

These things take time and planning. This is not risky business, but our only option for a sustainable environment and a clean energy economy.



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