Hawaii soon to be the first state with electric car stations

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You might think the gas crisis has eased since gas is now down below $2 per gallon in almost all states. But while the national average gasoline prices have dropped to just $1.825, and are below $1.50 in several locales, Hawaiian drivers are still paying close to $3 per gallon to fuel up. The state, which imports foreign oil for 90% of its energy needs, has good reason to look for alternative solutions. So perhaps it's no surprise that the state has announced that by 2011, the first electric car recharging stations will open in Hawaii, and a large scale network of up to 100,000 charge spots will be open in the state by early 2012.

The state won't be spending any money to build these stations either -- Better Place, a California-based company, will build the stations and provide recharged batteries for electric cars. Better Place aims to have a zero carbon footprint, and will purchase renewable energy for its charging stations from Hawaiian Electric Co. The company plans to recharge its batteries at night with power from Hawaii's wind farms, much of which currently goes unused due to the state's low nighttime energy needs.

All About Alternative Fuels

    Tanks of bio-fuel are on display at the future technologies hall during the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan on December 3, 2008. Poland host crunch talks on the bloc's planned climate package between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and prime ministers from EU newcomers, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania in Gdansk. AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

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    Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi sits in an electric car used by Poste Italiene mail carriers in Rome December 3, 2008. Berlusconi was being shown new energy-saving technology at the Italian postal services headquarters. REUTERS/Remo Casilli (ITALY)

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    A visitor stands next to a Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle (i MiEV) at the International Petroleum Technology Conference (IPTC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

    AP

    Visitors take a look at a Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle (i MiEV) at the International Petroleum Technology Conference (IPTC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)

    AP

    A worker collects oil palm fruits at a plantation in Sepang outside Kuala Lumpur December 2, 2008. Palm oil prices surged as high as RM4,486 ($1,239) as demand was boosted by China's surging economy, biofuel uses and speculation in commodities as an asset class. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA)

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    Workers collect oil palm fruits at a plantation in Sepang outside Kuala Lumpur December 2, 2008. Palm oil prices surged as high as RM4,486 ($1,239) as demand was boosted by China's surging economy, biofuel uses and speculation in commodities as an asset class. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA)

    Reuters

    A worker collects oil palm fruits at a plantation in Sepang outside Kuala Lumpur December 2, 2008. Palm oil prices surged as high as RM4,486 ($1,239) as demand was boosted by China's surging economy, biofuel uses and speculation in commodities as an asset class. REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad (MALAYSIA)

    Reuters

    Gas prices are below a dollar and a half at a station in Lawrence, Kan., Thursday, Nov. 27, 2008. A neighboring station is selling ethanol blends for an even lower price. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

    AP

    Chief Pilot David Morgan with samples of jatropha oil and the first ever "J50" biofuel blend. (Photo: Business Wire)

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    Russia's President Dimitry Medvedev poses with samples of biofuel he received from the president of Brazil's oil company Petrobras, Sergio Gabrielli (out of frame), during a meeting in Rio de Janeiro, on November 25, 2008. Medvedev is in a two-day visit to Brazil to tie commercial relations between both countries. AFP PHOTO ANTONIO SCORZA (Photo credit should read ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images)

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Better Place has reached an agreement with Nissan Motor Co.-Renault SA wherein Nissan will make electric cars to be recharged at the stations. The company is also in talks with Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Corp. Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle expects that these carmakers have a good incentive to follow Nissan's lead as Better Place creates new markets for electric cars. She touts the new program as a great way to help meet Hawaii's goal of slashing fossil fuel use 70% by 2030.

Better Place CEO Shai Agassi says that Hawaii is the perfect place to showcase this new technology because of the huge tourism industry. Over 5 million tourists each year come to the islands and most of these visitors rent cars. "If we can get them into electric cars when they rent, we do two great things," Agassi said. "One, we avoid emissions and, two, we use the opportunity to educate them, to teach them in Hawaii how it needs to be done in the rest of the world."

As if we needed another excuse to want to go to Hawaii...
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