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Integrated Smart Grid Essential to Our Clean Energy Economy

March 1, 2012
Governor Neil Abercrombie , The Maui Weekly

Last November, Hawai'i and Japan officials took the initial step toward developing a first-of-its-kind smart grid demonstration project on Maui.

Together with Hideo Hato, president of Japan-based New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (an arm of Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), I signed a memorandum of understanding that outlined the multi-million dollar project that will improve integration of variable renewable resources on the island. Installation of the smart grid technology is expected to begin quickly in late 2012, with the project becoming operational in 2013.

"Such mutual collaboration will contribute to a breakthrough toward a solution needed by both countries, expansion of renewable energy and integration of grid networks," President Hato said of the agreement. "We hope that this project will provide a model for island grids in the Asia-Pacific region and across the globe."

Article Photos

Together with Hideo Hato, president of Japan-based New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a memorandum of understanding that outlined a project to improve integration of variable renewable energy resources on the island.
Photo: Gov. Abercrombie file photo

Given the rising cost of crude oil and the severity of speculation in the global oil market, we must ask ourselves why we continue to send billions of dollars a year outside of our islands to meet our energy needs. Establishing a smart-grid system is necessary for our state to efficiently manage power generated by alternative and renewable resources, allowing more projects to come to fruition, reducing our dependence on foreign oil, keeping local dollars from flowing outside the state, and producing more jobs for kama'aina.

With significant renewable energy already in place, Maui is the perfect location for the project, which is designed to establish a model to integrate clean energy in a smart-grid system. More specifically, the project will develop and install smart-utility system controls in the Kihei area on Maui to improve the integration of photovoltaics and electric vehicles. Advanced electric vehicle charging management systems will enable utility operators to better balance generation and power demand while accepting larger amounts of solar and wind power.

My administration will continue to look at every option, being aggressive in this pursuit, but respectful in our approach to our island environment. But two critical issues must be addressed to position ourselves for increasing use of alternative and renewable energy--reliability and infrastructure. As such, we can only truly move forward by changing our views on energy production or distribution, away from an insufficient, island-by-island perspective and context. We must be united on a statewide basis and move forward together on an undersea cable to connect all our island grids. It is not about one island generating energy to be used on another. This integrated, statewide grid will provide reliable electricity and stable, equalized energy prices between the islands, which will benefit all of us.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we are on the right path. The state currently has approximately 80 renewable energy projects in various stages of development in the queue.

Working together toward this common goal is key for Maui and the State of Hawai'i as a whole to not just be a player, but a leader in the Asia-Pacific region's clean energy economy.

 
 

 

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