First Phase of Grid Modernization Plan Approved
The Public Utilities Commission has approved a plan by the Hawaiian Electric Companies to put the latest digital technology to work managing the electric grids on five islands and giving customers more control over their energy costs.
The first phase of the four-year, $86.3 million plan will begin later this year. It is a foundational step in transforming a grid built for the one-way flow of electricity into a dynamic, high-technology platform providing real-time data on the two-way stream of power shifting back and forth between customers and the grid.
The new technology will help expand the amount of private rooftop solar, make use of rapidly evolving products—including storage and advanced inverters—and incorporate a vast array of sophisticated energy management tools, such as demand response.
Highlights of the first phase include:
- Deployment of advanced meters to enable customers to take advantage of private rooftop solar programs and variable rates. The PUC said in its approval order that it “wishes to make clear that the companies may deploy more advanced meters, faster and more broadly than they propose… and should consider doing so.”
- Launch of a meter data management system that collects and stores the data received from the advanced meters. This includes an online energy portal that allows users to monitor and manage their energy usage.
- Implementation of a telecommunications network that enables the communication path for both advanced meters and field devices for distribution sensing, control and automation. Programs now rely only on cellular service that isn’t available in all areas.
- Setting the foundation for overlaying digital intelligence and automation to create a more efficient, resilient electric system capable of utilizing all grid-connected resources. The cost of the first phase for a typical residential customer on Oʻahu would be 24 cents a month; Maui, 34 cents; Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi, 27 cents; and Hawaiʻi Island, 55 cents.