Frequently Asked Questions
What are the browser requirements for the outage map?
The outage map should be viewed in the most up-to-date browser available for your computer or device to ensure the best compatibility and performance. Here are the most recent versions of commonly used browsers:
- Google Chrome (53.0.2785.89)
- Firefox (48.0.2)
- Internet Explorer 11
- Safari (9.1.2)
Version information accurate as of 9/2/2016.
What is a smart grid and why does Hawaii need one?
A smart grid modernizes our existing electric grid by incorporating communication and information technologies to better manage how energy is produced, consumed, stored and delivered. A smart grid is needed for Hawaii because it will improve reliable service for customers and make the power grid more flexible to integrate more low-cost renewable energy, like wind and solar, which will help us reach our state's goal of 100 percent renewable energy. Other benefits of a smart grid are listed here.
What are the benefits of smart grid?
Near-term benefits include:
- Better ability to control your bills: Will allow you to monitor your energy use patterns and make informed adjustments that can reduce your consumption and lower energy expenses.
- Faster power outage restoration: Smart meters act as sensors to detect power outages instantaneously and can assist with identifying pocket outages and improve restoration times with remote troubleshooting.
- Cost savings: Will enable automated billing, improving operational efficiencies and reducing meter reading costs.
- Greater convenience: Will allow meter readings to be done remotely. Meter readers will no longer need to enter your property, which means fewer interruptions for customers with gated access or guard dogs. Will also automate customer requests to turn new service on or shut off existing service with greater convenience through remote capabilities.
- Time-of-Use rates to save money: Provides a more efficient way to offer time-of-use rates on a larger scale and makes it easier to take advantage of existing time-of-use rate options by providing greater access to energy use data based on time of day.
- Less energy use and more savings: Reduces energy and fossil fuel use by more efficiently controlling the level of power delivered to customers needed to maintain reliable and safe power quality.
- Better electricity theft detection.
As the smart grid network expands, we envision other benefits for Hawaii's energy future. Future benefits include:
- More renewable energy: Improves efficiencies and more integration of renewables which will help us achieve Hawaii's goal of 100 percent renewable energy and will provide other benefits such as lower dependence on foreign oil, a lower carbon footprint and increased economic growth for Hawaii.
- More options to lower bills: Enables more customer rate options and programs to help customers reduce their energy consumption and lower bills.
- More customer-sited renewable resources: Supports more renewable distributed energy resources by providing more information about how renewable energy is impacting the grid.
- Tools to improve reliability and reduce operating costs: Enables analytics and Distribution Automation to improve reliability, grid management and reduce operating costs.
- New technology solutions: Makes it easier for future technology, such as energy storage, to integrate into the smart grid, to further increase distributed generation and reduce operating costs.
What exactly will the Hawaiian Electric Companies be doing for the Smart Grid Foundation project?
We are modernizing the electric system by installing smart grid technologies that will help us to better serve our customers and meet Hawaii's clean energy goals.
The project will consist of a modern wireless communication network to upgrade the existing electric grid on the five islands we serve. It will include smart meters, a communications network, back end software for processing and storing data, a customer Web/mobile portal, expansion of the outage management system to the neighbor islands and other equipment.
The system will improve outage detection and restoration. In addition, the smart electric meters will provide electricity usage information to help customers better manage their bills, and enable automated services such as remote meter reads and move-in/move-out requests.
A personalized online and mobile energy portal to help give customers more control over their energy use and electric bills. Smart grids will provide system operators and engineers with data and tools needed to help achieve Hawaii's 100 percent renewable electricity goal by improving the safe and reliable integration of greater amounts of renewable energy.
When will you be rolling out smart grids on other islands?
The exact timeline depends on the regulatory review process. We anticipate that we can start to deploy smart grids to residential customers across Oahu in 2017 and in Maui County and Hawaii Island by 2018. Installation for residential customers is expected to be complete by the end of 2019, and commercial customers by 2021, pending approval of our plans by the Public Utilities Commission.
What kind of information will be available on the new Web portal? How will it help customers manage their electricity costs?
Instead of waiting until their bill comes each month to see how much energy was used, customers will be able to view their energy use in near-real time on their Web portal. This information will be presented in 15-minute increments so customers can see which appliances and electronics have the biggest impact on their monthly consumption. By using the Web portal, customers will be able to monitor their energy use and make informed decisions about adjustments to better manage their energy expenses.
Is Hawaii the only state developing a smart grid?
No. Smart grid technology has matured and utilities across the U.S. have developed smart grids. There are now more than 50 million smart meters installed across the country.
These efforts helped the development of smart grids. The technology has now matured and experience has shown it to be safe, efficient, and reliable.
How does the smart grid help shorten outages?
When a power outage occurs today, our current electric grid does not have the ability to instantaneously communicate outage details to us. So, we depend on our customers to report outages to us with a phone call, which then helps us identify the areas impacted and potential causes. Smart meters have the ability to send us an alert as soon as an outage occurs. This helps us identify the potential source of the problem faster and in some cases our system operators can troubleshoot problems remotely. The meters also help identify "pocket outages" (small sets of homes/businesses that sometimes remain out of power after the majority of a circuit is restored) to ensure all customers are restored before leaving a job site. These enhanced capabilities will reduce our response times and allow us to restore power more quickly.
What experience do the Hawaiian Electric Companies have with smart grids?
In preparation for the island-wide installations, we tested some of the smart grid technologies and operational process during an Initial Phase smart grid demonstration starting in June 2014. During this initial phase, about 5,200 smart meters were installed in homes and businesses in the Moanalua Valley and in parts of Pearl City, Kaimuki, Kahala, Diamond Head, and Waikiki. These neighborhoods reflect the general mix of homes, businesses, physical terrain and electrical circuits across the island. This initial phase allowed us to fine-tune the installation process, evaluate upgrades to the grid and substations, and gather feedback from customers about the smart grid and smart meters.
On Maui, a small number of Maui Electric customers have been participating in the Maui Smart Grid Project since 2012 and in 2013, some Kihei residents are participating in the JUMPSmartMaui, an EV demonstration project using smart grid technology designed to aid in the development of a more efficient power grid. The project is a collaborative demonstration project among Japan, the State of Hawaii, and Maui County to improve the integration of renewable energy into the island's electric grid and support more EVs on the island.
What if customers don’t want to participate?
Customers who choose not to participate will be given the option of remaining on their old meters if they wish.
But it's important to note that modernizing the electric system is an important step for Hawaii. Customers who choose to defer getting a smart meter may not experience all of the benefits a smart grid offers, which include, but are not limited to: an energy management tool that can help customers track their energy usage to better manage energy costs; enhanced metering capabilities that may allow customers to enroll in future rate programs; remote outage troubleshooting that can shorten power outages; and automated meter reading.
A modern smart grid can also integrate more low-cost renewable energy, like wind and solar, which will reduce Hawaii's dependence on expensive imported oil.