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woman charging her car
Stephanie Carroll, a Hawaiʻi CC student and EV owner, powers up her car on campus.

In time for Earth Month, electric vehicle (EV) owners on Hawaiʻi Island have a new place to charge their vehicles for free using clean, renewable solar energy on the Hawaiʻi Community College Manono Campus in Hilo.

On April 13, Hawaiʻi CC celebrated the installation of the first solar EV charging station at its campus, which is also the first portable solar charging station of its kind on Hawaiʻi Island.

Now available for students, faculty, staff and members of the public, the charging station is the result of a collaboration between GreeInvest, LLC and Hawaiʻi CC, and it demonstrates the college’s leadership on sustainability.

two men by charging station
Michael Ryer, CEO of GreeInvest, left, and Noel Morin, president of the Big Island Electric Vehicle Association, explore the new charging station.

Hawaiʻi Community College is committed to being a part of the solution to the many environmental challenges we face,” said Hawaiʻi CC Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas. “There are numerous examples of how we are accomplishing this, including this new solar EV charging station. Mahalo to our Environmental Sustainability Committee and GreeInvest for working together to provide this service to the campus and community.”

The Hawaiʻi CC faculty senate created a resolution to bring an EV charger to campus, and soon after, the Environmental Sustainability Committee began talks with GreeInvest about how sustainable charging options could be integrated at the campus.

“The Hawaiʻi CC Environmental Sustainability Committee was formed to turn thought into action and bring sustainability initiatives to fruition on our campus and in our community,“ said Debbie Weeks, Hawaiʻi CC science instructor, and Kaʻea Lyons, Hawaiian studies instructor, who co-chair the Environmental Sustainability Committee. “Our major achievement for our first year in existence is bringing the first portable commercial solar EV charger to the island. The installation of this charger has taken place amid a recent spike in fuel prices, which has highlighted the need for alternative sources of energy.”

Hawaiʻi CC student Stephanie Carroll, who is majoring in early childhood education was excited to learn about the new charger.

“As an EV owner, charging stations are very important to me, and it can be difficult to access them,” Carroll said. “I’m really excited this is happening. It’s one more option for me, and the fact that it’s solar makes it even better.”

GreeInvest CEO Michael Ryer saw the demand for charging opportunities on Hawaiʻi Island and began exploring different options.

“After extensive research, I began working with BEAM Global, which manufactures solar-powered, portable EV chargers,” said Ryer. “Getting one of these chargers deployed on Hawaiʻi Island became my goal and now it’s a reality.”

woman leading chant
Kaʻea Lyons leads an oli during the celebration.
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