Shai Agassi's Project Better Place has gone on an expansion spree of late, enveloping two new sites in the U.S. and one in Australia in addition to the previously announced locations in Denmark and Israel. Now the initiative is moving its plans to Hawaii, working with the governor and the state's largest utility provider to build a grid of charging stations by 2012.

The central premise of Project Better Place is to build the infrastructure necessary to support electric cars, while cooperating with the carmakers to help facilitate their arrival - a sort of 'if you build it, they will come' strategy. Renault-Nissan is the primary partner for supplying those electric cars. Test vehicles are already on the streets in several locations, including other EV projects not associated with Agassi's Better Place organization.

Hawaii's Governor, Linda Lingle, hopes the project will help cut the $7 billion the state spends each year on imported oil while at the same time improving the island's environmental profile, reports CNNMoney. Hawaii's role as a year-round tourist hotspot is also important to the Better Place initiative, offering a chance for millions of visitors to be exposed to the electric car network once it's up and running. "You couldn't ask for a better advertisement," says Agassi.

The end goal of the project is to replace oil energy with renewable energy, for both the environmental and security benefits that come with such a structure. “It’s a win-win-win - the only loser in the equation is oil and that’s ok,” said Robbie Alm, vice president of Hawaiian Electric, which supplies 95% of Hawaii's power. “Green cars will provide the market for renewable energy.”