NOTE: The video of the question and answer session from this meeting will be presented in a follow-up story
(BIVN) – The Hawai‘i Electric Light Company held a public meetings Monday night on its plans to upgrade the Big Island power grid.
Attendees at the Waiakea High School cafeteria were presented an overview of the draft plan to modernize Hawai‘i Island’s power grid, and provided input during a open house / question & answer session with utility officials.
“Hawai‘i Electric Light has been effectively integrating renewable energy on our isolated island grid for many years, using innovative solutions to safely bring on more renewables while maintaining grid stability and reliable service,” said HELCO president Jay Ignacio in a media release before the event. “Since 2009, we’ve increased our renewable percentage from 30 to more than 54 percent, the highest in the state. To make the jump to 100 percent, we need to make the grid even better, stronger and smarter.”
The utility filed the draft Grid Modernization Strategy with the Public Utilities Commission in June. The plan describes the scope and estimated $205 million cost to update the energy networks of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaiʻi Electric Light over the next six years.
HELCO says the plan aims to help bring on more renewable resources like private rooftop solar, increase reliability, and give customers new choices to control their energy use.
According to the utility, highlights of this near-term work include:
- Distribution of smart meters strategically rather than system-wide, i.e., to customers with private rooftop solar on saturated circuits; and customers interested in demand response programs, variable rates or who seek usage data;
- Reliance on advanced inverter technology to enable greater rooftop solar adoption;
- Expanded use of voltage management tools, especially on circuits with heavy solar penetration to maximize circuit capacities for private rooftop solar and other customer resources;
- Expanded use of sensors and automated controls at substations and neighborhood circuits;
- Enhanced outage management and notification technology.
The draft plan and related documents are available at here on the HELCO website. Public comments on the plan can be submitted to email@example.com until Aug. 9, 2017.
Another meeting will be held tonight: Tuesday, Aug. 1, in the Council Chambers at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center in Kona. Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. Company representatives will present an overview of the plan at 6 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session.