US islands connect to smart grid


The US smart grid is extending beyond continental America to the island state of Hawaii and territory of the US Virgin Islands as part of a nationwide grid modernisation plan.

Utility Hawaiian Electric has announced it will roll out smart-grid technologies for 5,200 customers by end of July 2014.

This represents the first phase of a plan that will develop smart grids across Oahu, in Maui County and on Hawaii Island by 2018.

The utility is working with networking platform and smart grid solutions provider Silver Spring Networks to deliver advanced meters, wireless communications relays, sensors and automated systems controls into the existing electrical grid.

Hawaiian Electric operations senior vice president Dan Giovanni said the company is modernising the electric system to provide a solid foundation for the community’s energy future.

Mr Giovanni said: “Our state needs modern electric grids to further improve service, provide customers with more choices, and integrate more low-cost renewable energy to reduce Hawaii’s dependency on expensive imported oil.”

Across the sea

Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, the US Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (VIWAPA) is deploying advanced metering infrastructure with help from solutions giant Itron and smart grid provider Tantalus.

The two companies are delivering a joint solution for utility platform and meters to more than 55,000 electricity customers throughout the islands of Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas.

Funded by the US Department of Agriculture, the solution must unite AMI communications over the three separate islands.

Niel Vanterpool, AMI project lead for VIWAPA, said: “One of the biggest advantages of the Itron-Tantalus solution was that it is designed to cost-effectively leverage as much existing infrastructure as possible, including fiber and microwave backhaul technology, over extremely rugged terrain.”

VIWAPA’s deployment is the first Caribbean joint project between Tantalus and Itron since the two companies formed an alliance in 2011.

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