One of the five new Chevy Volts is shown at the West Hawaii Civic Center. Photo courtesy of Hawaii County Office of Mayor Billy Kenoi.

One of the five new Chevy Volts is shown at the West Hawaii Civic Center. Photo courtesy of Hawaii County Office of Mayor Billy Kenoi.

HILO, HAWAII - Hawaii County rolled out five 2012 Chevrolet Volts that comprise its new electric vehicle fleet. Based on their past usage of County vehicles, vehicles will be issued to the Departments of Parks and Recreation, Planning, and the Office of Housing and Community Development. The remaining vehicles are assigned to the Mayor’s Office and available for official use by any department.

The County deemed the extended-range electric vehicles a great fit for County use, with trips that can be as long as 200 miles one way. Vehicle batteries will be charged by the LEED Silver-certified West Hawaii Civic Center’s 250 kilowatt photovoltaic array, which has the capability to provide energy to the building and charge up to 30 EVs or 60 PHEVs.

While each vehicle costs $47,000, the County will offset that price with a $4,500 credit per car through the state’s EV-Ready rebate program. The cost of each vehicle also includes a bumper-to-bumper warranty for seven years.

Hawaii Island pays some of the highest fuel costs in the United States. In fiscal year 2011, the County’s transportation fuel bill was $7 million.

“The vehicles couldn’t have come at a better time as we see rising fuel prices,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi. “If you look at our budget and you see how much we spend on fuel for the County, we said, let’s start with a five-vehicle fleet. We will slowly and incrementally begin implementation of a larger electric vehicle and hybrid fleet here in the County of Hawaii. It’s not something we should do, it’s something we must do.”

The West Hawaii Civic Center is shown in these aerial photos. The 250 kW photovoltaic array installed on the parking structure provides power for the Center and to charge the County of Hawaii’s new electric vehicle fleet. Photo courtesy of Hawaii County Office of Mayor Billy Kenoi.

The West Hawaii Civic Center is shown in these aerial photos. The 250 kW photovoltaic array installed on the parking structure provides power for the Center and to charge the County of Hawaii’s new electric vehicle fleet. Photo courtesy of Hawaii County Office of Mayor Billy Kenoi.

Prior to purchase of the vehicles, the county received a grant from Better Place Inc. to have three charging stations installed at the West Hawaii Civic Center. Each charging station can handle two electric vehicles at a time. The Chevy Volt typically takes 3.5 hours for full charge. Available charging stations will be open for public use during regular business hours.

An October 2011 report issued by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “Evaluation of West Hawaii Civic Center’s Transportation and Energy Use,” supports with economic analysis the integration of plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles into the County fleet. The County has also worked with HELCO to coordinate vehicle deployment as well as charging station infrastructure, according to the release.

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