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HECOs Take Steps to Implement First Phase of Grid Modernization Strategy

High-tech upgrades to cost less than $1 a month

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light have outlined a set of cost-effective actions to modernize the electric grids on five islands, including the launch of an online portal where users can monitor their energy use.

The companies filed an application with the Public Utilities Commission last week seeking approval to implement the first phase of a plan that will help make the grid renewable-ready and that will give customers more choices. The filing builds on the companies' overall strategy, "Modernizing Hawaii's Grids for Our Customers," which regulators approved for implementation in February.

Highlights of the grid modernization strategy's first phase include:

  • Deployment of advanced meters on an as-needed and where-needed basis, primarily for enhanced sensing and reliability purposes, and enabling customers to take advantage of new private rooftop solar programs and variable rates. Customers who participate in new programs like demand response would also benefit from these enhanced meter features.
  • 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. Currently, programs rely only on cellular service, which isn't available in all areas.

"Upgrading the grids so that customers have more cost-saving options is a high priority for our companies," said Alan Oshima, Hawaiian Electric president and CEO. "Integrating the latest technologies in phases allows the companies to keep options open for future innovation and, more importantly, minimizes the impact on customer bills."

The companies will implement the first phase from 2019 to 2023 at an estimated cost of $86.3 million. On average, the monthly bill impact for a typical residential customer on Oahu would be 24 cents; Maui, 34 cents; Molokai and Lanai, 27 cents; and Hawaii Island, 55 cents.

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