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Noel Morin

Hawaii Island

Images by: Noel Morin and Ulupono Initiative

Noel Morin has what may seem like a daunting task of coordinating and organizing electric vehicle owners on the state’s largest island, Hawaii Island. Yet, Noel remains undaunted, as he enthusiastically serves as president of the Big Island EV Association.

With about 220 members, the Big Island EV Association is small but mighty. Under Noel’s leadership, the group consistently hosts public monthly meetups to showcase members’ cars and share information about EVs. “We realized that there was a need to provide others with information about electric cars in order to increase adoption,” said Noel. “We found that there was a lot of interest but also a number of misconceptions about EVs. This spurred our mission to increase adoption through education and advocacy.”

Since joining the Big Island EV Association in 2011, Noel has witnessed an increase in the number of EVs on the roads. “A few years ago, the sight of another EV was an exciting event -- it would elicit flashing lights and a shaka or thumbs up,” he shared. “These days, you can find EVs of all types on our roads. It still elicits a smile, but the novelty is gone.”   
Even with more electric cars hitting the streets, Noel knows his work is just beginning. “We still have a long way to go -- EVs represent less than one percent of the cars in the state -- but the number is growing. Consumer awareness and preference for electric vehicles are increasing. Hearing things like, ‘that’s the car I’ll drive when I grow up’ demonstrate that even our youth are aware. This gives me hope.”

The next item on Big Island EV Association’s agenda is the expansion of the island’s charging infrastructure. “This is still a challenge for our island as the number of reliable stations is insufficient, but progress is being made,” said Noel. “We’ve been fortunate to have the focus of Hawaii Electric Light Company in the installation of several Fast Chargers and the build out of some quality Level 2 stations. The Fast Charger network is especially helpful as it is facilitating the circumnavigation of the island and mitigating range anxiety.”

What’s on the horizon for Noel and the Big Island EV Association? “In 10 years, I envision that EV adoption will have breached the tipping point. With purchase price and total cost of ownership advantages over gas cars, battery and charger innovations that enable rapid charging, availability of EVs in all shapes and sizes (including, buses, freight trucks, and pickups!), and charging stations that are as ubiquitous as gas stations are today, EVs will dominate our roads.”

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