Saipan Correspondent


PUERTO RICO, Saipan — With the Biden administration’s target of 50% zero-emissions electric vehicles by 2030, it is looking like Coldwell Energy is steering the NMI into the right direction.

Coldwell Energy CEO David Hood recently brought to the island two electric cars — the higher-end Tesla Model X, and the more affordable 2021 Nissan Leaf — as part of his vision to get the NMI to adopt a more renewable and sustainable transport technology.

“It’s an investment in the future of this island,” Hood told the Journal. “It is a good one, because if we can start steering some people into more renewables, that just will take off like it did in California.”

Hood’s family runs Coldwell Solar Inc. in California, which he brought to and incorporated in the NMI as Coldwell Energy. California is the top renewable energy producer in the country, and despite having energy-intensive industries, has one of the lowest per capita energy consumption levels in the nation, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

For Hood, Saipan is the “perfect place” for electric cars, given its size. With the island just about 12 miles long and six miles wide, and with a fully-charged Tesla going for 220 miles, one full charge could literally go a long way around the island.

“The reason it is so good here is because we are in kind of a fishbowl. We don’t have far to go. When you have an electric car, the chances of you running out of power [here] are pretty low. Even though it seems like it is the last place that we are going to get electric cars, it is the perfect place to do it,” he said.

Powering the electric cars is more like “plug and play.” Hood likened charging the electric car to charging a mobile phone, adding that it can be plugged into any 110 outlet, or a 220-dryer outlet, and that charging depends on how far a person wants to go.

“The Tesla was completely emptied and it took about a little over six hours, with 220 to charge it at night… It’s no different than charging your phone, to be honest. You do that every day. It charges about a mile every two minutes. If you needed just a couple of miles, in five minutes, you’d be ready to go,” he said.

Coldwell Energy is currently in a testing phase. The cars will be driven for a couple of months to test the meters to acquire data, as well as to get information on the upsides and downsides of running electric cars on island. Prototypes for the charging stations are currently being built in California, which they intend to install in early 2022.

“We need some infrastructure, but for the most part, people will do this at their convenience at home,” Hood said. “I’m not really interested in being a [car] dealer, but I want to help build the infrastructure.”

The infrastructure consists of emergency charging stations and solar-powered charging stations that will be situated in a few select locations on island.

Coldwell Energy CEO David Hood with the Tesla Model X, one of the two electric cars he brought to the Northern Mariana Islands as part of his vision to get the islands to adopt a more renewable and sustainable transport technology.
Photo courtesy of David Hood

Hood also clarified that not only is he not interested in car dealership — since Joeten Motors already carries Nissan — but that he also is not trying to “take away from fuel companies.”

“That’s not going to happen; there’s always going to be cars that require fuel. This is just a venue to help become a little more sustainable. My intent is to help you have more options… I’m not taking anything away from the fuel companies but what I am doing is making you a little more energy independent. And I think that’s power.”

While the electric cars seem expensive now — with the Tesla Model X starting at almost $80,000 and the 2021 Nissan Leaf at more than $30,000 — the 2022 Nissan Leaf is priced from $27,400, apparently making it the cheapest electric vehicle for sale in the U.S.

The cost of maintenance should be less too, according to Hood, as there will be no oil changes, and less maintenance than is normally associated with fossil fuel engine and combustion. The potential for success in the NMI is there, he said.

“This is that next step into a serious effort to clean the air, and try to be a little more sustainable. … If it’s going to cost you more, people probably won’t do it. But if it’s gonna cost you less, I think you’re gonna have people go, ‘Wow, so I can drive this electric car and the fuel is going to be less expensive, even if I plug into the CUC,’” he said.

With a successful business in renewable energy in California, Hood told the Journal that rather than “just retire” in the NMI, he intends to keep working on sustainability and renewables for the rest of his life.

“I think this is a great place to do it. I love the people here. So, my message to the people is, let me help you with sustainability. Energy independence is really an important thing. I think if we can show people some different pathways, they will appreciate that. It will move all these along.”

For more information on renewable energy, contact Coldwell Energy at (670) 322-2653, or visit its office at the MH1 Building in Puerto Rico, Saipan. mbj