Our Islands, Our Future

Maui Smart Grid volunteers wrapped up their participation in a pilot project that led many to become more energy efficient. “I really wanted to get a good handle on my family’s energy use and bring down, if possible, our electricity bills. I got that by participating in the Maui Smart Grid Project,” said Maria Drey, one of 66 Maui Meadows residents who participated in the two-year project.

The Maui Smart Grid project aimed to help volunteers monitor their home power use, sometimes in real time, and make adjustments for efficient and cost-effective use of electricity. With the help of one smart meter on property, Drey said her family kept track of their energy consumption and made changes accordingly. They invested in an energy-efficient system for their pool and were more prudent with lights and appliances. Meanwhile, volunteer Alfred Wolf monitored his electric usage to “get a more precise feel for how energy is used and generated at my place.” For Wolf and Thomas Croly, volunteering for Maui Smart Grid meant they could contribute toward the state’s efforts to reach the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative goals. “I hope Maui Electric Co. will gain information from the Maui Smart Grid project to help distribute energy more efficiently,” Croly said.

The project was co-led by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Maui Electric Co. Maui Economic Development Board partnered to engage with the community and project volunteers. The project’s findings will be sent to the U.S. Department of Energy, and shared with industry looking at best uses of technological tools for energy efficiency, according to Leon Roose, principal and chief technologist of GridSTART at Hawaii Natural Energy Institute. “We found on average, people did change their behavior and reduced their energy consumption as a result of having more information on energy use and through tips and awareness made possible through home energy audits,” Roose said.