Clean Energy Facts

Smart Grid Development

A key element in Hawaii's clean energy future is development of a more intelligent electric grid.

At Hawaii Electric Light, our grids are already smart, with advanced communications and computerized controls managing the flow of electricity from our power plants as far as our substations. However, we are developing a "smarter" electric infrastructure to continue to deliver reliable service while increasing renewable energy sources throughout our grid.

We believe smart grid technologies should have high security and serve one or several of these functions:

  • Assist the integration and efficient use of renewable generation;
  • Improve grid reliability and resiliency;
  • Improve customer satisfaction;
  • Help our customer efficient use of electricity.

Bridging the gap between "smart grid" concept and reality will require developing and investing in enhanced information technology, communications infrastructure, cyber security, and smart-grid compatible components on both the customer-side and utility-side of the meter.

Components of a Smart Grid

A smart grid builds upon existing utility generation, transmission and distribution. It uses automation, communications, analytics and controls to operate the grid reliably and safely with increasing intermittent renewable sources (like wind and solar power) on the utility side of the meter as well as demand-side and distributed resources on the customer side.

Each electrical system will have its own specific "smart" components, depending on the function desired. However, the National Energy Technical Laboratory has described a Smart Grid System with the following components:

  • An integrated communication system - A system that connects the other components in a reliable manner that is resistant to cyber and physical attacks.
  • Sensing and Measurement - Devices in the field that sense and gather useful data. One example is advanced meters.
  • Advanced Control Systems - Computer-based systems that collect and process the data, react to system conditions automatically or provide diagnostic information and solutions to help utility system operators respond to outages and system conditions.
  • Advanced Components - Devices such as advanced switches, flexible AC transmission systems or power quality devices, plug-in hybrids and so on, in the field.

Status of Smart Grid Development in Hawaii

New technologies are constantly emerging in the smart grid arena. The Hawaiian Electric companies continue to conduct pilot projects, support research and evaluate developments to determine which technologies best fit Hawaii's unique needs and provide the most value to our customers for years to come.

Advanced Metering Projects

On Oahu, Hawaiian Electric is modernizing the electric system by developing a robust 21st-century smart grid to better serve our customers. During the initial phase, from April - June 2014, about 5,200 smart meters will be installed in homes and businesses in the Moanalua Valley and parts of Pearl City, Kaimuki, Kahala, Diamond Head, and Waikiki. During this time, the system will be evaluated, and feedback from customers will be collected. If approved by the Public Utilities Commission, the rollout will continue across Oahu.

In Maui county, Maui Electric has several smart grid projects in development, such as the Maui Smart Grid Project, JUMPSmart Maui, and the Maui Advanced Solar Initiative.