Hawaii is the most fossil fuel-consuming state in the Union, and it has to import most of its energy sources. Not only does this make its electricity more expensive, but it’s also more difficult for an electric cooperative to anticipate and adjust to fluctuations in demand. However, a smart grid project by Hawaii Electric may have consumers in Maui’s Wailea, an isolated luxury resort community, thinking twice before firing up power-hungry household appliances.
Hawaii Electric is counting on a pilot program that will install wall-mounted meters to track the amount of power used by household appliances. Watching the kilowatts zip by would probably be incentive enough, but this smart grid tool tells customers how much electricity their neighbors are collectively using, too. For example, instead of running the clothes dryer at 2 p.m., if demand is highest and electricity is most expensive around that time, consumers could delay pushing the start button until the smart meter shows them that demand is waning and electricity is cheaper to use. By 2012, Hawaii Electric expects electricity use to decrease by as much as 15 percent.