An update on Hawaii Island power generation – how you can help

Hawaiian Electric is proud that Hawaii Island has been nationally recognized for its varied portfolio of generation resources, with 52% of electricity coming from renewables, including 17,000 rooftop solar systems, grid-scale solar and battery, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal.

99.9% of the time* it works the way it’s supposed to, but on the rare occasion it doesn’t, there’s no one to call on for backup - we’re on our own.

That’s why we will need everyone to work together over the next month, and possibly longer, to conserve electricity. We are extremely tight on what we call our generation margin, the margin between the demand for electricity and our ability to supply it. This demand typically peaks on weekdays between 5 and 9 p.m. and that’s when the margin is most critical.

This is an unusual situation, driven mainly by the unavailability of several large generators that have experienced mechanical problems, are at reduced output or are undergoing maintenance. The island’s largest generator, operated by an independent power producer that sells electricity to Hawaiian Electric, has significant mechanical issues and is offline. The plant generates 60 megawatts or nearly one-third of the typical peak demand of 180 megawatts on the island.

Hawaiian Electric is using companywide resources and working with its independent power producers to return units to full service as soon as possible. Until then, you may see alerts asking you to conserve energy, especially on days when there isn’t much wind, which can generate up to 15% of the electricity on the grid. When you see the alert, please take immediate action to minimize your use of electricity.

For households, minimizing the use of water heaters, ovens, stoves, dryers, air conditioners and other large appliances, especially during the peak hours, can really help, along with shifting major appliance use to the daylight hours when solar is abundant.

Mahalo for your understanding and your help. By working together, we can minimize any inconveniences to you.

*2023 normalized average service availability index for generation, transmission, and distribution for Hawaii Island in 2023 was 99.960% as reported to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

How the Hawaii power grid works

This video provides an overview of the unique challenges of operating electric grids in Hawaii. It was produced independently by the YouTube channel Practical Engineering.

Energy conservation video

"How the Hawaii Power Grid Works" YouTube, produced independently by Practical Engineering, March 19, 2024.