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HELCO to Host Meetings on Power Grid Upgrade Plans

July 27, 2017, 10:50 AM HST
* Updated July 27, 10:52 AM
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Hawaii Electric Light Co. File photo.

Hawai‘i Electric Light Company invites the public to meetings next week to share its draft plan to modernize Hawai‘i Island’s power grid and seek input from the community.

Open houses will be held on Monday, July 31, in the Waiākea High cafeteria in Hilo and on Tuesday, Aug. 1, in the Council Chambers at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center in Kona.

Doors will open at 5:15 p.m.

Company representatives will present an overview of the plan at 6 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session.

“Hawai‘i Electric Light has been effectively integrating renewable energy on our isolated island grid for many years, using innovative solutions to safely bring on more renewables while maintaining grid stability and reliable service,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawai‘i Electric Light president. “Since 2009, we’ve increased our renewable percentage from 30 to more than 54%, the highest in the state. To make the jump to 100%, we need to make the grid even better, stronger and smarter.”

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The draft Grid Modernization Strategy filed with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in June describes the scope and estimated $205 million cost to update the energy networks of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaiʻi Electric Light over the next six years.

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The plan aims to help bring on more renewable resources like private rooftop solar, increase reliability, and give customers new choices to control their energy use.

Highlights of this near-term work include:

  • Distribution of smart meters strategically rather than system-wide, i.e., to customers with private rooftop solar on saturated circuits; and customers interested in demand response programs, variable rates or who seek usage data;
  • Reliance on advanced inverter technology to enable greater rooftop solar adoption;
  • Expanded use of voltage management tools, especially on circuits with heavy solar penetration to maximize circuit capacities for private rooftop solar and other customer resources;
  • Expanded use of sensors and automated controls at substations and neighborhood circuits;
  • Enhanced outage management and notification technology.

Public comments gathered from this meeting and others held on Maui and O‘ahu will be included in the final plan to be submitted to the PUC at the end of August.

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The draft plan and related documents are available online.

Public comments on the plan can be submitted to [email protected] until Aug. 9, 2017.

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