A student-led initiative has increased electric car charging stations on the UH Hilo campus from two to 10. Auxiliary Services staff designed and implemented an installation plan that substantially cut costs.
An initiative inspired by business student Raiatea Arcuri has resulted in the addition of eight new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations installed over the summer at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo to address high demand for charging stations on campus. This brings the total charging stations available to the UH Hilo community to 10.
The project was an Auxiliary Services and UH Hilo Student Association (UHHSA) collaboration, led by William Walters, director of Auxiliary Services, and Arcuri, then-vice president of UHHSA. (Arcuri, who also worked two years as photographer for the Office of the Chancellor and the UH Hilo Stories website, graduated in May.)
“We thank UHHSA for their initiative in pushing this project forward,” says Kalei Rapoza, interim vice chancellor for administrative affairs. “The ideas of our students in improving campus is important. I am happy that we were able to collaborate on this idea, and look forward to future collaborations.”
Arcuri, a strong supporter of EV charging stations on campus, initiated discussions with Walters to expand the availability of EV charging stations throughout campus, and upgrade the new EV chargers from 120-volt Level 1 chargers to 240-volt Level 2 chargers.
Prior to this project, UH Hilo installed Level 1 EV charging stations at the Sciences and Technology Building and the Old Gym. The time required to fully charge an EV with a 100-mile battery using a 120-volt, Level 1 EV charging station, is 17 to 25 hours; as opposed to four to five hours using a 240-volt, Level 2 EV charging station.
Arcuri proposed the project to UHHSA and successfully obtained approval from its members to fund the purchase of eight 240-volt Level 2 EV chargers.
The ten EV charging stations are now installed throughout campus, two each at the following locations:
- Sciences and Technology Building
- Old Gym
- Auxiliary Services, near chiller building
- Zone 2 parking lot, near bookstore
- Hale‘olelo, College of Hawaiian Language
Walters notes that a 240-volt Level 2 EV charger is reasonably priced at $450 per unit, however, the installation costs are substantial. According to the State Energy Office, a relatively simple EV charging station installation project in Hawai‘i typically costs approximately $6,000 to $8,000 per station. The significant project costs are attributed to furnishing and installing the mounting platform and stand for the EV charger; installation of equipment protection (bollards and wheel stops); digging conduit trenches from the electrical supply point to the EV charger location; and electrical installation work.
But UH Hilo electrician Shannon Asejo came up with a plan to install the eight EV charging stations spending much less than what it would have cost to contract services for one EV charging station installation project. Asejo thoughtfully selected the station locations based on the closest access to existing electrical supply infrastructure to minimize the length of conduit trenching required from the electrical supply point to each station.
Rapoza says Asejo was instrumental in maximizing the number of EV charging stations installed this summer through his ingenuity and cost-effective approach on this project. “The team was able to support this student initiative, minimize costs without compromising quality, and implement a successful campus improvement project during challenging times,” he says.
The selected parking spaces include parking stops, eliminating the need to install equipment protection. To further reduce expenses, Asejo fabricated the mounting platform and stand using durable recycled metal roofing, and repurposed parking lot light posts in lieu of purchasing a new EV charger mounting stand.
Asejo was supported by his building maintenance co-workers Fred Dela Cruz and Kyle Tsuda to complete the project. Dela Cruz assisted with the trenching work for the electrical conduits; and Tsuda repainted curbs and parking stripes with identifiable orange paint.
The 10 recharging stations are available to all UH Hilo students, faculty, and staff free of charge to support EV usage and reduce carbon emissions.