Hawaii smart grid: Hawaii Electric extends rollout on Oahu

Oahu island Hawaii smart grid technology
Hawaii smart grid: Hawaii Electric is seeking regulatory approval to expand the rollout of grid automation technology across the island of Oahu later this year

In the US, Hawaii’s prinicipal electric utility has confirmed it plans to extend its deployment of technology across the state later this year as part of its Hawaii smart grid project.

An earnings report issued this week by the parent company of Hawaiian Electric, the state’s largest utility, indicated that the energy company plans to seek regulatory approval for an extension of the rollout on Oahu island as well as Hawaii island.

The Honolulu-based utility is asking the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission for a green light to continue the Hawaii smart grid rollout in the fourth quarter of the year.

Hawaii smart grid project

Since launching the smart grid project in the Q2 2014, Hawaiian Electric has replaced about 5,200 residential and commercial meters with smart meters, 160 direct-load control switches, fault circuit indicators and remote-controlled switches in selected areas across Oahu, reports Pacific Business News.

The initial phase implementation is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.

Hawaiian Electric said that the smart grid allows customers to manage their electric bills, and can potentially shorten outages and enable the utilities to integrate more low-cost renewable energy, such as wind and solar, which help to reduce Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil.

As part of Hawaiian Electric’s goal to move to 100% renewable energy sources by 2045, the utility is also seeking to deploy energy storage solutions.

To accommodate the surge in renewable generation, customers and the state utility will have to start looking to implement energy storage technologies, “which have yet to pencil out financially for mass adoption within the market,” says Pacific Business News.

Integration of rooftop solar

The utility has also worked with California microinverter company Enphase Energy to upgrade the operating behaviour of around 800,000 of its smart microinverters installed on Hawaii island in a bid to better integrate rooftop PV systems.

Enphase made software updates remotely to allow rooftop solar installations to be more tolerant when a problem occurs on the grid.

Commenting on the project, Raghu Belur, co-founder and vice president of products and strategic initiatives at Enphase, said: “Regulators and utilities across the US are working to determine the value that distributed energy resources provide to the grid, in an effort to inform policy development and procurement decisions.

“This most recent collaboration between Enphase and Hawaiian Electric provides a quantifiable example of how our distributed technology, with its high-granular data and control, can provide immense value and save ratepayers millions of dollars in upgrade costs.”