Perks for electric vehicle owners set to expire in Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — Drivers will no longer receive certain benefits for driving electric vehicles in Hawaii under a law set to expire at the end of the month.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation has reminded electric vehicle owners that they will now be charged a fee for parking at most state and county parking lots and meters starting Wednesday, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

Electric vehicle owners must also now pay an additional $50 surcharge with their registration fees.

Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie enacted the law in 2012 that offered electric vehicle owners special license plates, which gave them numerous perks, including free parking and use of the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

The perks served as incentives for residents to purchase more sustainable vehicles.

Its disappointing to see the perks ending, said Herb Law of Honolulu, owner of a Tesla and BMW i3. Law suggested perks should be given to all-electric vehicles, rather than plug-in hybrids using a combination of fuel and batteries.

“We bought into the philosophy of all electric,” Law said. “We travel interisland, and going to the airport for a day or two, that’s a great perk. That’s probably the one we will miss the most.”

The perks added up to about $4 million a year in free parking at state airports, department officials said. All-day parking at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu costs at most $18 each day and $15 each day at other airports.

The expiration of perks comes as the number of registered passenger electric vehicles in the state has grown by more than 30% in May compared to May 2019, according to the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Melissa Miyashiro, Blue Planet Foundation’s managing director of strategy and policy, said clean-vehicle incentives are still needed to achieve the state’s climate change goals.

“The Legislature’s abandonment of all clean vehicle incentives this year is at odds with our critical climate goals,” she said. “We dispute the assertion that the state is losing millions of dollars due to free parking at the airport; it’s unlikely that vehicles would continue to park there without the perk, so they probably won’t see a corresponding revenue increase with the parking benefit gone.”