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Smart Grid Project Recruiting 200 Maui Meadows Volunteers

September 21, 2011, 1:27 PM HST (Updated September 21, 2011, 1:30 PM) · 0 Comments
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By Wendy Osher

The Maui Smart Grid Project will demonstrate and evaluate new technologies that will help residents better manage and reduce energy consumption during periods of high demand. It will also assist Maui Electric Company (MECO) operate the electricity grid more efficiently.

Volunteers are being sought from the Maui Meadows neighborhood in South Kihei to participate in a pilot project to help Hawaii reduce its dependence on imported oil.

The Maui Smart Grid Project is recruiting up to 200 volunteers for the program with all project technologies to be provided and installed at no cost to participants.

The technologies that will be evaluated by the Maui Smart Grid Project are designed to give customers more control over their energy use, increase energy efficiency and allow for greater integration of clean energy resources.

The project is also designed to reduce Hawai’i’s dependence on imported oil, which the state relies upon for about 90% of its energy needs.

“Maui is the perfect location for this kind of smart grid research. Approximately 26% of the energy on its relatively small electrical grid comes from renewable resources,” said Dr. James Griffin, project director for the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawai’i, one of the project’s lead organizations.

Under the program, participants will have a smart meter installed in their home as well as access to a personalized, secure website displaying information on energy use measured by the new meter.

Participants will also have the opportunity to try additional smart grid technologies in their home, such as an in-home energy use display and a smart thermostat. The technologies will provide project participants with more information on, and control over, how and when they use energy.

In addition to the home-based equipment, Maui Electric Company (MECO)  will assist in the monitoring and management of the delivery of electricity to customers.

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“Improving each island’s electricity grid through new smart grid technologies is a key element of Hawaii’s landmark clean energy goals,” Griffin said. “Through the experiences of Maui residents in this project, we will learn valuable lessons about the best ways to modernize Hawaii’s electricity system.”

MECO President Ed Reinhardt said initiatives like the Maui Smart Grid Project are vital to successfully balancing service reliability and as-available sources of power like solar and wind.

“The success of the Maui Smart Grid Project will give our customers greater control of energy use in the home and help MECO manage demand during peak usage times, reduce outages, and enable quicker restoration of power,” said Reinhardt.

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa said the first step in reducing energy use is to understand how our choices affect energy use.  “Volunteers in this project will see how much electricity is used when they turn on their computer, television, or lights. The Smart Grid project has great potential,” said Arakawa.

The project team will host a community meeting in the next couple of months to provide further details on the project and answer questions from community members.

To learn more about the Maui Smart Grid Project and to sign up, visit: www.mauismartgrid.com or call 808-270-6803.

The US Department of Energy is funding the Smart Grid initiative as part of a nationwide set of demonstration projects. In addition to HNEI and MECO, other project partners include the Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO), Silver Spring Networks, GE Energy, County of Maui, Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), Sustainable Living Institute of Maui at the University of Hawaii-Maui College, HNU Energy, and SRA International.

*** Supporting information courtesy, Maui Electric Company.

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