A company that builds electric vehicle charging stations announced Tuesday the first steps toward building a network of chargers across Hawaii. The firm is called Better Place and has partnered with Hawaiian Electric Company and four hotels in Waikiki to install 10 electric car charging stations on Oahu. Five electric car charging stations have been installed at the Sheraton Waikiki with five other chargers at HECO sites on Oahu. "Better Place's goal is to make electric cars more convenient and more affordable and more sustainable than today's gas-powered cars," said Brian Goldstein, director of Better Place Hawaii. Two of the electric cars will be used by the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Sheraton Waikiki, Princess Kaiulani hotel and the Moana hotel to transport VIP guests to and from the airport as a pilot project to see how the charging stations and the cars work. Hawaiian Electric Company will use five other cars in its operations. Nearly half of the money for the $1.1 million project came from the federal government. "The funding is an earmark,said U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, whose remark brought laughter and applause from the crowd at a Tuesday afternoon news conference at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. The Democrat was referring to the earmarking process, which allows members of Congress to set aside funds for projects that benefit their districts. Congress has agreed to end the controversial practice of earmarking after Republicans took control of the U.S. House. "We can no longer necessarily rely on federal intervention, in terms of support, dollar support," said Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat. Electric car charging stations cost a little under $1,000 and a Better Place representative said their price is coming down. State Sen. Mike Gabbard, D-Kapolei, Makakilo, just bought a Nissan Leaf electric car Friday, costing between $23,000 and $24,000, after state and federal tax credits.