Project aims to bring smart meters to every home on Kauai

A smart-grid demonstration project in Hawaii aims to bring advanced metering to every household on the island of Kauai.

The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s (KIUC) request to commit funds for the project was recently approved by Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission.

The $11.9-million project, to be 50-percent paid for through federal stimulus funding, will replace some 33,000 electricity meters with smart meters enabling two-way data communications between KIUC and customer households. The advanced technology will allow the utility to conduct remote meter readings and detect outages at the household level. KIUC also plans to use the technology to demonstrate the effectiveness of load control and demand response systems, and to evaluate alternate rate options.

“We are a small island grid and upgrading our electrical grid with smart meters and related technology can make our system more efficient and help integrate new smart appliances, electric cars and other new and evolving technologies over the coming years,” said Mike Yamane, KIUC chief of operations and lead engineer for the project. “New technology can ultimately result in our members saving money if we are able to better control our island’s energy demand and be able to defer investing in baseload conventional generation.”

KIUC expects to get the project under way early next year. The five-year project calls for two years to install the  new meters and communications infrastructure, and three years for data gathering and analysis.

In addition to upgrading its metering infrastructure, KIUC is working to diversify its energy portfolio with an increasing percentage of energy from hydropower, photovoltaics, biofuels and biomass. Its projects include plans for a 10-megawatt solar installation that, upon completion, will be the largest photovoltaic facility in Hawaii.

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