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    Maui Smart Grid Newsletter

    January 31, 2021

    Energy Savings Motivates Maui Meadows Retiree

    Retired psychiatrist Ric Andrews’ invested in the Smart Grid project and photovoltaics to help save energy. “It may be years away but I’m willing to pay now so I can save later,” the Maui Meadows resident said. The owner of a two-bedroom home and a pool house on a half-acre lot, Andrews uses energy-saving light bulbs throughout his property. “I really want to be conscientious of my use of energy,” he said.

    He said he volunteered to participate in the Smart Grid project out of an interest in helping find solutions for energy savings and alternatives. “Just for the planet, for the state, it’s the right thing to do,” Andrews said. “We need to look for how we can be more energy efficient. If Smart Grid can help, that’s a good thing.” At age 66, Andrews said he lives on a fixed income and he knows that electricity costs “are only going to go up, not down.” He said he paid $33,000 for 44 PV panels and expects to recoup his money in about four or five years. “I was paying upwards of $500 a month and now I’m going to be saving $6,000 a year” with the usage of the photovoltaics, he said. “I’m just so happy I got this. It means I can stay in my paradise.”

    Andrews said with the savings he’s earning on electricity bills, he’s hoping to purchase in the future an electric vehicle.

    Did You Know?

    • 10.1 million megawatt-hours of power were sold last year by Hawaii’s electric utilities.
    • That’s the equivalent of 100 wind farms that generate 30 megawatts, like Kaheawa Wind on Maui.
    • $5.09 billion left the state last year to pay for imported petroleum; $4,000 for every person living in Hawaii.
    • More than 1,000 MW of renewable projects are in service, under construction, awaiting approval or being negotiated — with more to come.

    Project Partners Answer Smart Grid Volunteer Questions

    Maui Smart Grid volunteer got their questions answered in a special gathering organized for them by the Maui Economic Development Board. Bringing the answers to the August 9th gathering at the Malcolm Center, were Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, Sustainable Living Institute of Maui, Silver Spring Networks and Maui Electric Company.

    SLIM Executive Director Dr Jennifer Chirico talked about how the Maui Smart Grid Projects has provided valuable learning opportunities for the University of Hawaii at Maui College students. The hands-on training the college students received while performing in-home energy audits led to a few of them opening their own energy consulting firms on Maui. Without the Maui Smart Grid Project and the willingness of the volunteers, this opportunity would not have been possible, Chirico said.

    Meanwhile, Silver Spring Network Sales Engineer, Curt Johnson reviewed with the volunteers the latest version of the WEB portal also known as CIQ or Customer IQ. This latest version, Johnson said, has the ability to overlay solar production if a second electricity meter is installed on the output side of a solar system. He added that the program allows the volunteers the opportunity to see their solar production versus their energy consumption.

    Using Google Earth, Johnson referred to charts that showed the energy consumption and solar production for the entire Maui Smart Grid Project. One of the charts depicted the peaks and valleys of the Maui Meadows neighbourhood’s solar production and electric consumption during one particular day.

    Following the completion of the Maui Smart Grid Project, a comprehensive report about the information gathered will be written and submitted to the U.S. Department of Energy for evaluation and future decisions surrounding Hawaii smart grid initiatives.

    Leon Roose of Hawaii Natural Energy Institute told volunteers that the information obtained from the Maui Smart Grid Project will improve the island’s energy grid system. The project will also help to resolve renewable energy challenges and provide possible energy alternative solutions.

    Roose also talked about a new project device called eGauge. The device, which will be installed in five volunteer houses, will give participating homeowners the opportunity to measure the energy usage of up to 10 individual appliances. The goal is to help consumers optimize energy savings, reduce electric consumption and track usage on major appliances on any given time and day.

    New Device Measures Appliance Usage

    eGauge is here! This new device will allow Maui Smart Grid volunteers to monitor and record whole-house energy usage, solar and other renewable energy sources. Users are also able to measure the energy consumption of up to 10 individual appliances. By the end of September, Rising Sun Solar will have installed the five eGauge devices. MSG volunteer Craig Haueisen is already finding the eGauge device useful. It “makes you more aware of how much energy each appliance uses,” he said.