How Hawaii Electric is raising the smart grid bar

Thu, 2015-01-15 12:00 -- SCC Staff

I've long said the utility model is seriously broken and in need of a 21st Century overhaul. So I was intrigued to hear Silver Spring Networks, a Council Associate Partner and major player in the smart grid space, announce that Hawaii Electric Company (HEC) has cracked the code on the utility model of the future. And Silver Spring ought to know; they partnered with HEC, providing the smart grid platform that has enabled the utility to make such impressive strides. You'll see what I mean when you read below about all the applications HEC is able to deploy on a single network. – Jesse Berst


As Silver Spring Networks put it in a recent press release, Hawaii Electric's ambitious, multi-application program unlocks value for consumers and raises the bar for smart grid programs.

How so? Consider that leveraging Silver Spring's platform enabled the utility in its initial deployment to quickly and cost-effectively roll out the following smart grid apps:

  • Advanced metering infrastructure: A two-way communication system that provides customers and Hawaiian Electric with robust, near real-time, detailed information about energy use. It provides the foundation for the benefits derived from other smart grid applications.
  • Conservation voltage reduction: In conjunction with Dominion Voltage Inc’s EDGE software, the Silver Spring UtilityIQ Voltage Optimizer allows HEC to more accurately control the level of power delivered to the end-consumer, which improves the efficiency of both the grid and devices.
  • Customer portal: An Internet-based portal available to residential, small business and commercial customers who have a smart meter installed, the Silver Spring CustomerIQ portal highlights usage in 15-minute increments. Customers can view their consumption, estimate their monthly usage and receive tips for decreasing energy consumption.
  • Demand response and direct load control switches: In support of Hawaiian Electric’s growing femand response program, as many as 250 customers are piloting load control switches with two-way communication and under-frequency control to help manage demand for renewable energy sources such as wind or solar.
  • Distribution automation: Offers increased grid reliability and more rapid response in the event of an outage through Fault Circuit Indicators and automated switching.
  • Pre-pay: Leveraging innovation from SmartGridCIS, the program will provide customers with the flexibility to pay for electricity before they use it, while avoiding the need for deposits.

HEC and Silver Spring also worked with the Blue Planet Foundation to educate Hawaii consumers on the environmentally friendly initiatives achieved by Hawaiian Electric through smart grid technology.

Raising the bar
“Hawaiian Electric is driving one of the industry’s most ambitious smart grid programs and they are demonstrating what the ‘utility of the future’ model will look like,” said Steve Ingram, Vice President, Global Delivery, Silver Spring Networks. “Using Silver Spring’s multi-application network, Hawaiian Electric has also set a new bar for engaging with consumers, including the speed and breadth of the deployment and how to deploy an array of applications to deliver value that translates into greater savings, increased reliability and distributed generation, supports solar and wind interconnection, and gives consumers the tools to better manage their energy use today.”

Expanded deployment in Hawaiian Electric’s service territory is pending regulatory approval.

“We are committed to quickly implementing the industry’s top technology to help the residents of Hawaii save money, experience improved service, and meet our renewable energy goals,” noted Dan Giovanni, Senior Vice President of Operations, Hawaiian Electric.

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Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to learn about the benefits you receive when you join the Council for free. Follow @Jesse_Berst and connect on LinkedIn.

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