The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission recently approved Hawaiian Electric Co.’s request to use a $5.3 million federal stimulus grant to install smart grid technology to improve electric service to customers on Oahu. The project will save customers nearly $18 million while eliminating the need for underground construction that could impact traffic in urban Honolulu.
Using the stimulus funding, Hawaiian Electric will install computerized automated controls to portions of the electric system in urban Honolulu. This increased automation will help speed up troubleshooting during outages and reduce outage times.
“This smart grid project is part of our overall effort to upgrade our system to improve reliability, increase efficiency and support the use of more clean energy,” said Robbie Alm, Hawaiian Electric executive vice president.
The work is a part of Hawaiian Electric’s East Oahu Transmission Project. This phase of the project will allow the company to take advantage of the latest technology to potentially reduce outage times for approximately 12,400 customers in the area from Manoa through Kaimuki and Kahala.
Prior to receiving the federal stimulus grant, Hawaiian Electric planned to spend $28 million to install 1.9 miles of underground transmission lines between Kakaako and McCully, potentially tying up traffic for months.
By using smart grid technology, Hawaiian Electric will be able to improve reliability in the project area by using computer controlled sensors and switches to automatically isolate outages and re-route power to affected customers. The project can also be completed with minimal construction impacts on traffic.
The smart grid project will cost $15.4 million, but the federal stimulus grant lowers the cost to customers to $10.1 million. The project is estimated to be completed by 2012.