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Hawaiian Electric Companies Submit Plan to Modernize Island Grids

The plan, "Modernizing Hawaiʻi's Grid for Our Customers," outlines near-term initiatives that strengthen the grid

The Hawaiian Electric Companies filed their Grid Modernization Strategy with the Hawaiʻi Public Utilities Commission (PUC) yesterday, providing a roadmap for building more resilient and renewable-ready island grids.

The filing follows the submission of the companies' draft report in late June. The draft was posted online and presented at four public meetings on Maui, Hawaiʻi Island and Oʻahu to review the strategy with customers, answer their questions and receive their comments. Dozens of written comments and transcripts of the public meetings are included in a separate document that accompanied the filing.

The plan, "Modernizing Hawaiʻi's Grid for Our Customers," outlines near-term initiatives that strengthen the grid through investments in technology to enable more renewable energy resources to be safely and efficiently integrated with the grid, including private rooftop solar.

Longer term, the strategy is to continue to evolve the grid as a platform to enable greater customer choice and support statewide economic development and "smart communities" efforts that rely on robust data and energy management systems.

The companies estimate it will cost $205 million to update the energy networks of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaiʻi Electric Light over the next six years. The plan aims to help bring on more renewable resources – customer-sited and grid-sourced – increase reliability, and give customers new choices to manage 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 electricity 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
  • Enhanced outage management and notification technology
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