Clean Energy Facts

Smart Grid Development

A key element in Hawaii's clean energy future is development of a more intelligent electric grid.

At Maui Electric, our grids are already smart, with advanced communications and computerized controls managing the flow of electricity from our power plants as far as our substations. However, we are developing a "smarter" electric infrastructure to continue to deliver reliable service while increasing renewable energy sources throughout our grid.

We believe smart grid technologies should have high security and serve one or several of these functions:

  • Assist the integration and efficient use of renewable generation;
  • Improve grid reliability and resiliency;
  • Improve customer satisfaction;
  • Help our customer efficient use of electricity.

Bridging the gap between "smart grid" concept and reality will require developing and investing in enhanced information technology, communications infrastructure, cyber security, and smart-grid compatible components on both the customer-side and utility-side of the meter.

Components of a Smart Grid

A smart grid builds upon existing utility generation, transmission and distribution. It uses automation, communications, analytics and controls to operate the grid reliably and safely with increasing intermittent renewable sources (like wind and solar power) on the utility side of the meter as well as demand-side and distributed resources on the customer side.

Each electrical system will have its own specific "smart" components, depending on the function desired. However, the National Energy Technical Laboratory has described a Smart Grid System with the following components:

  • An integrated communication system - A system that connects the other components in a reliable manner that is resistant to cyber and physical attacks.
  • Sensing and Measurement - Devices in the field that sense and gather useful data. One example is advanced meters.
  • Advanced Control Systems - Computer-based systems that collect and process the data, react to system conditions automatically or provide diagnostic information and solutions to help utility system operators respond to outages and system conditions.
  • Advanced Components - Devices such as advanced switches, flexible AC transmission systems or power quality devices, plug-in hybrids and so on, in the field.

Status of Smart Grid Development in Hawaii

New technologies are constantly emerging in the smart grid arena. The Hawaiian Electric companies continue to conduct pilot projects, support research and evaluate developments to determine which technologies best fit Hawaii's unique needs and provide the most value to our customers for years to come.

Proposed Battery Energy Storage System on Molokai

Maui Electric Company and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute of the University of Hawaii held a community meeting on Molokai in November 2013 to present information on a potential battery energy storage project intended to help increase the reliability and stability of the grid. For more details, see here.

Maui Smart Grid Projects

The island of Maui meets the definition of high-penetration renewable power. With a peak load of around 200 MW, up to 72 MW can now come from wind energy. Today, Maui receives 20 percent of its energy from wind, with plans to add even more renewable energy in the future. Even at 20 percent, issues with grid reliability arise due to minute-to-minute wind fluctuations. These characteristics make Maui an ideal setting to develop smart grid technologies.

Currently, these smart grid research projects are in development on Maui:

1). Maui Smart Grid Project

Launched in 2011, the Maui Smart Grid Project is evaluating new technologies to enable a cleaner, more efficient energy system on the island of Maui. This pilot project is voluntary with an opt-in basis in the Maui Meadows neighborhood of South Kihei. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) at no cost to project participants.

  • Reduce demand for electricity by 15% on neighborhood distribution circuits during peak times
  • Help integrate greater amounts of intermittent wind resources
  • Enable faster outage restoration
  • Allow customers to better manage their energy use

All participants have an advanced meter professionally installed at no cost at their home and receive access to a personalized energy data website. Through this site, participants can easily monitor and control their energy consumption.

In addition, participants may be eligible to test one or more of the following technologies:

  • An in-home display
  • A smart thermostat
  • A smart water heater control system
  • A solar PV monitoring system (if a rooftop solar system is installed)

For more information, go to

2). JUMPSmart Maui

To help solve the state's ongoing energy challenges, energy partners from Japan and the United States are collaborating on a multi-million dollar Smart Grid demonstration project - JUMPSmartMaui.

For the purposes of this demonstration project, critical energy data will be gathered from volunteer owners of the Nissan LEAF electrical vehicles (EV) and selected residents from Kihei households to address the challenges of modernizing our Smart Grid system and building a clean transportation future for Hawaii. The project will also improve management of Distributed Energy Resources by developing and demonstrating advanced technology for the control of EV charging.

Findings will help create a more efficient, reliable clean energy grid that can be applied to our island and scaled to the larger grid across Hawaii, as well as other parts of the world.

JUMPSmartMaui is funded through a $30 million investment by Japan's largest public research and development management organization, New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). NEDO has selected Hitachi Ltd., along with Mizuho Corporate Bank and Cyber Defense Institute to develop the demonstration program in Maui, along with key organizations that include the: County of Maui, Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, Maui Economic Development Board, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute / University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Hawaii Maui College, Maui Electric Company / Hawaiian Electric Company, The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Advanced Energy Company USA and HNU Energy.

Project Overview

  • Develop and install smart utility system controls in the Kihei, Maui area to improve integration of solar and wind power and electric vehicles
  • Connect advanced electric vehicle charging management systems to the electric utility system controls, allowing utility operators to manage electric vehicle charging to balance generation and power demand

The project is part of the Hawaii-Okinawa Partnership on Clean and Efficient Energy Development and Deployment an agreement signed in June 2010 by the U.S. Department of Energy, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan, State of Hawaii and Prefecture of Okinawa.

The Hawaii-Okinawa partnership is intended to foster development of clean and energy- efficient technologies to solve global energy security and climate-change challenges. The governments of Japan and the United States designated Hawaii and Okinawa for this groundbreaking partnership due to their demonstrated leadership and experience in clean energy and energy efficiency.

The project began its planning phase in 2011, is now moving into the phase of recruiting participants and is scheduled for completion in 2016.

For more information, go to

3). Maui Advanced Solar Initiative

This project will use smart grid technologies to improve integration of high levels of photovoltaic power into utility grids. The output of photovoltaic systems can vary with cloud cover and other environmental conditions, which can affect service reliability on the grid.


  • Achieve lower interconnection costs for customer-sited photovoltaic systems
  • Use "smart" equipment to improve management of power output from photovoltaic systems
  • Commercialize products to support higher levels of photovoltaic installations

Advanced Metering Projects

Hawaiian Electric Company is modernizing the electric system by developing a robust 21st-century smart grid to better serve our customers. During the initial phase, from April - June 2014, about 5,200 smart meters will be installed in homes and businesses in the Moanalua Valley and parts of Pearl City, Kaimuki, Kahala, Diamond Head, and Waikiki. During this time, the system will be evaluated, and feedback from customers will be collected. If approved by the Public Utilities Commission, the rollout will continue across Oahu. Learn more about Hawaiian Electric's smart grid development.