Business

Hawaiian Electric Seeks to Expand Smart Grid Technology

April 1, 2016, 12:03 PM HST
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Hawai'i Electric Light's Hilo office on Kilauea Avenue. File photo by Dave Smith.

Hawai’i Electric Light’s Hilo office on Kilauea Avenue. File photo by Dave Smith.

Hawaiian Electric Companies submitted a smart grid project proposal to the Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission on Thursday.

The project will aim to integrate, produce, and deliver more power through a more cost-efficient method, according to the company.

In its proposal, Hawaiian Electric is requesting permission to install smart grid technology for near half-a-million customers on the Big Island, Maui County, and Oahu.

The smart grid technology will upgrade the electric grid as it currently is, making it more automated and energy efficient. Additionally, the system would improve outage detection and restoration.

As part of the proposed project, Hawaiian Electric says that customers would have access to an energy portal to assist in the management of their bills and conduct services.

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“Modernizing our electric grid is a critical part of our commitment to better serve our customers and achieve a clean energy future for Hawai‘i,” said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and Chief Executive Officer. “This investment will lay the technological foundation to enable us to provide our customers with better service, more options to manage their bills, more renewable energy and other services in the future.”

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In 2014, the company began to develop its smart grid program with the upgrade of portions of the electric grid that serves about 5,000 customers in Moanalua Vally and sections of Pearl City, Diamond Head, Kaimuki, and Waikiki on Oahu.

Hawaiian Electric says that the proposal submitted Thursday provides customers with information and customers could choose to opt out of the smart meter use but would be charged a monthly amount for continued manual reading and maintenance.

The project must be reviewed and approved by the PUC, with input from the Hawaiʻi Division of Consumer Advocacy.

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If approved by the PUC, Hawaiian Electric anticipates the installation of smart meters as early as 2017 on Oʻahu and 2018 on the Big Island and in Maui County.

In addition, Hawaiian Electric officials say that should the proposed merger with NextEra Energy be approved, the installation of smart meters will be accelerated by two years and will cost $22 million less.

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