Published in The Maui News, March 22, 2015
By DON GUZMAN, for The Maui News
Maui County is fast becoming a paradise for users of electric vehicles, or EVs.
With more than 600 EVs, the island of Maui has the highest concentration in the nation. More EV charging stations are being installed all the time.
The County Council Economic Development, Energy, Agriculture and Recreation Committee, which I chair, recently endorsed a license for Hitachi Ltd. to install new EV chargers at the Haiku Community Center, the Lahaina Aquatic Center and the county building in Wailuku. Under the license agreement, battery storage will also be maintained at the Kihei Community Center.
Hitachi has launched the groundbreaking JUMPSmartMaui project in partnership with key stakeholders in Maui County, including EV owners who serve as project volunteers. With Maui Economic Development Board as the lead local partner, JUMPSmartMaui seeks to demonstrate smart-grid technology and support increased use of renewable energy on Maui.
Grid modernization is a focal point of the 2015 Maui Energy Conference, which MEDB is presenting at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center on Wednesday and Thursday. Conference speakers include many local and national experts on energy policy, including Lorraine Akiba of the state Public Utilities Commission and Hunter Lovins, president of Colorado-based Natural Capitalism Solutions.
On Friday, conference attendees will have the opportunity to participate in mobile workshops examining the JUMPSmartMaui project and the Kaheawa Wind Farm. The conference is timely, with the state Legislature currently considering a timeline for Hawaii to phase out the use of fossil fuels.
Registration information is available at mauienergyconference.com.
My committee continues its work to preserve and promote agriculture in Maui County. Community input has been invaluable in this effort, and I always welcome the submission of ideas and concerns to Don.Guzman@mauicounty.us.
Reviewing the county’s parks inventory is also part of the committee’s purview. The committee on Tuesday discussed fees for use of recreational facilities, which provided a helpful overview as the council prepares for the start of its annual budget session later this month.
The meeting also provided an opportunity to get updates on projects of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
The construction of a multipurpose center in Kihei is an ongoing matter of interest for the council and South Maui residents. The project is slated for mauka of Piilani Highway, near the terminus of Welakahao Road, and designed to include a 33,000-square-foot gymnasium, a kitchen, and meeting rooms that could be used both by local groups and visiting conventioneers.
Continuing to keep tabs on the implementation of a preservation plan in Kanaha Beach Park in Kahului is a priority of mine. As I mentioned in this space last summer (“Chair’s 3 Minutes,” Aug. 24, 2014), Kanaha Beach Park is important for many reasons, including being a habitat for many native species of flora and fauna.
* Don Guzman holds the County Council seat for the Kahului residency area. He is also the chair of the Committee of the Whole. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters. Visit mauicounty.us for more information.