At the Hawaiian Electric Companies, we take our responsibility of empowering Hawaii and our communities very seriously. From 2011 to 2017, we spent more than $1.5 billion to upgrade and reinforce poles, lines and equipment, and we'll continue to work hard to strengthen the electric grid and make it more resilient.
Upgrades / Maintenance
The day to day maintenance of the electrical infrastructure is a key part of keeping the grid resilient. We make regular inspections of our poles, lines, and other equipment and work to replace and upgrade aging and faulty equipment before failures happen.
We also regularly work on managing and trimming back the vegetation around our equipment, as many of the power outages during storms and other high wind occasions are due to tree branches or other vegetation falling into the power lines. In 2017 alone, the Hawaiian Electric Companies spent $16.9 million across the islands on vegetation management, trimming and cutting down trees and other vegetation.
Here are some examples of the continued maintenance we're doing to keep our grid resilient:
- Replaced wooden transmission poles with steel pole anchored in concrete on Kamehame Ridge in East Oahu
- Replaced 400 potentially defective splices from Iwilei to Ala Moana to ensure reliability of service
- Rerouted power around lava-damaged areas on Hawaii Island and reconfigured the transmission system after lava took down two transmission lines.
- Replaced more than 1,400 poles and transformers since 2014, and upgraded power lines on Maui, Molokai and Lanai.
As an island state in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no close neighboring states to rely on, being prepared is crucial. At the Hawaiian Electric Companies, our storm recovery planning goes on year-round, not just during hurricane season. Our companies work closely with government agencies in developing disaster plans and rehearsing responses. More than 200 of our employees received FEMA training certification in 2017 and participated in a two-day emergency drill that simulated a direct hit from a hurricane.
We also have strong relationships with other local utilities, companies and contractors, which is critical to speeding recovery. Furthermore, we have strong mutual assistance pacts with mainland utilities; crews and equipment can be brought to Hawaii within days if necessary.
Besides strengthening our existing infrastructure and being better prepared for disasters, we must also consider the future as the grid evolves and new technology emerges. As Hawaii moves towards 100% clean energy, we must ensure that the decisions we make will make the grid even more resilient than it is today. We are constantly evaluating and testing new technologies that can help us better monitor and control the grid, allowing us to add more distributed resources like rooftop solar to the grid, as well as restore outages quicker when they occur. We work hard to improve the reliability and resilience of our grid, from generation to distribution.
Here are some examples of how we can make our grid even more resilient in the future:
- Install remote fault indicators that can provide precise locations of fault allow us to restore outages quicker
- Advanced Inverters that can control the output of electricity of rooftop solar to the grid to ensure grid stability
- Build more modern and efficient power plants inland, away from the coastline
- Collaborate with key partners, such as the military, to supply energy to customers during an emergency; Schofield Generation Station, for instance, will play an essential role