Silver Spring Networks, Hitachi Start Work on Maui Smart Grid Project

Silver Spring Networks, Hitachi Start Work on Maui Smart Grid Project

With an ambitious goal to achieve 70 percent "clean energy" by 2030, the state of Hawaii is quickly becoming a test bed for renewable energy development and smart grid technologies.

One example is the Maui Smart Grid Project, which intends to evaluate the effectiveness of integrating renewable energy and engaging consumers to assist the Maui Electric Co. (MECO) in operating the grid safely and more effectively.

This week, MECO selected Silver Spring Networks as the platform provider in deploying a customer engagement and education program for the Maui Smart Grid Project. Some 200 residential customers in the Kihei area of South Maui will have access to a web portal to monitor energy use as well as receive in-home appliances such as smart thermostats to actively control home energy use.

As part of the agreement, Silver Spring will provide CustomerIQ, a platform that includes a web-based energy management portal, advanced metering, distributed generation monitoring, demand response and distribution automation solutions.

"We want  to add as much clean energy as possible to our stand-alone island grid as quickly as possible. So we’re looking to initiatives like the Maui Smart Grid Project to help us ensure our customers continue to receive reliable service while benefiting from increased use of solar and wind power," said Maui Electric Company’s President Ed Reinhardt, in a statement

Additionally, Hitachi has been assigned as project leader in building a model for systems and development. The system is testing how to mitigate the impact of variable renewable energy generation in optimizing grid efficiency, as well as looking into the implementation of an EV/PHEV management system and providing cybersecurity to ensure grid safety.

Last week, Hitachi announced two subcontractors began work on the project: the Cyber Defense Institute, identifying system vulnerabilities, and Mizuki Corporate Bank who will conduct a cost-benefit analysis.

The Maui Smart Grid Project, which began as a result of the Japan-U.S. Clean Energy Technologies Action Plan in 2009, includes an estimated budget of $37 million with system design and construction to continue throughout 2012. The project will be compared to stateside smart grid demonstration projects to help assess and design future smart grid initiatives in the state of Hawaii.

Bright sunset in Hawaii photo via Shutterstock.