Maui News

Maui Electric Company gets $1.2 million in stimulus funds for energy interconnection

October 19, 2010, 4:57 PM HST
* Updated October 20, 12:20 PM
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Maui Electric Company is the recipient of $1.2 million in federal stimulus funds for equipment and installation of energy storage systems.  The funds are part of a larger $2.1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding awarded in Maui County and on Hawaii Island by the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to promote renewable energy interconnection on the neighbor islands.

For Maui, one project will focus on the Moloka‘i grid. Maui Electric will perform an interconnection study on a single circuit to identify any system upgrades required to allow more distributed generation to be added to the circuit.

MECO president Ed Reinhardt. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Company President Ed Reinhardt called the grant a win-win for customers and residents of Maui County saying, “This stimulus grant will allow Maui Electric to understand the value of using battery systems to support more photovoltaic solar power and other distributed energy for our customers while maintaining the essential reliability our customers count on.”

The remainder of Hawaii funds, $900,000, goes to Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO) for a project on the Big Island, where renewable sources supply over 30 percent of the island’s electricity.

“With Hawai‘i Island having the highest penetration of renewables such as geothermal, wind, hydroelectric and photovoltaic, evaluating energy storage is a key element to HELCO integrating more distributed renewable energy generation,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawai‘i Electric Light Company president. “We need to build our experience with energy storage to determine if this technology can help to allow the grids to take more distributed renewable energy.”

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“These Department of Energy funds are intended to expand renewable energy use across the Hawaiian Islands,” said Steve Lindenberg, senior advisor, renewable energy, U.S. Department of Energy. “The two storage projects will help answer many questions related to areas of dense solar applications. We look forward to the results being helpful throughout the State.”

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“Hawai‘i’s abundant renewable energy resources are widely distributed across the islands, therefore, incorporating steadily increasing amounts into our grid system is going to require a proactive approach,” said Ted Peck, administrator, State Energy Office. “These storage system demonstrations managed by MECO and HELCO will help accelerate the use of distributed renewable energy to achieve the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative’s goal of 70 percent clean energy by 2030.”

Exact project locations, energy storage technologies, and other details are yet to be identified; however, circuits with high photovoltaic penetration will be targeted.  Installation of the energy storage system projects is expected in the second half of 2011.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; supporting information courtesy Hawaii Office of the Governor)

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