Hawaiian Electric Companies propose plan for smart grid technology

As part of its overall modernization plans, Hawaiian Electric Companies submitted to the Public Utilities Commission Thursday for its review permission to install smart grid technology for more than 455,000 customers on Oahu, Hawaii Island and in Maui County.

The project will consist of a wireless communication network, smart meters and enhanced technology that will upgrade the existing electric grid to be more automated and energy efficient. The system will improve outage detection and restoration.

In addition, smart meters will provide electricity usage information to help customers better manage their bills, and enable automated services such as remote meter reads and move-in/move-out requests.

Customers will also have access to a personalized energy portal, easily accessible on computers and mobile devices, to give them more control over their energy use and electric bills. Smart grids will provide system operators and engineers with data and tools needed to help achieve Hawaii’s 100 percent renewable electricity goal.

Hawaiian Electric started the development of the smart grid program in 2014 by upgrading portions of the electric grid that serve approximately 5,000 customers in Moanalua Valley and sections of Pearl City, Diamond Head, Kaimuki, Kahala, and Waikiki.

Under the submitted proposal, customers will be informed ahead of meter installation and, despite the benefits, can choose not to upgrade to a smart meter. Under Hawaiian Electric’s proposal, similar to the program implemented by the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative and other utilities across the country, residential customers who choose not to have a smart meter installed would pay a monthly charge of about $15 to help pay for the cost of continued manual reading and maintenance of their non-standard meters.

The $340 million Smart Grid Foundation Project must be reviewed and approved by the PUC, with input from the Hawaii Division of Consumer Advocacy. If approved by the PUC, installation of smart meters is expected to begin as early as 2017 on Oahu and 2018 on Hawaii Island and in Maui County.

Assuming approval of the proposed merger with NextEra Energy, smart meter installations across the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ service territories will be accelerated by two years.

To answer questions and inform customers about the power of a smarter grid, Hawaiian Electric is collaborating with other organizations, like the Blue Planet Foundation, Kanu Hawaii, Hawaii Energy, and IBEW Local 1260.

Blue Planet is currently collaborating with Hawaiian Electric on a smart grid technology pilot project to test how detailed energy information can affect customer behavior.

For more information, visit www.hawaiianelectric.com/smartgrid.

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