Connect: Maui Smart Grid Newsletter Issue 10

Web Site Developer Evaluates Energy Usage Regularly

Istvan Siposs, Web Site Developer

Istvan Siposs, Web Site Developer

Installing a $21,000 photovoltaic system at his Maui Meadows home is one of the best energy-savings decision Istvan Siposs said he’s ever made. Siposs works from home where he develops Web sites for Mainland companies. “I’ve never regretted,” he said.

Electricity bills of $250 a month have reduced substantially for the four-bedroom home he occupies with his wife, two children and their cat. Still, Siposs volunteers in the Maui Smart Grid project including agreeing to the usage of a new eGauge device that pin-points electricity usage to a specific appliance.

Siposs also utilizes the In Home Device to measure his home’s energy usage. “Every time we walk by it, we look at it to see how we’re doing,” Siposs said. The pager-size device was installed for free in his home.

This eGauge device provides Maui Smart Grid volunteers the opportunity to monitor and record whole house energy usage, solar and other renewable energy resources. Volunteers can measure energy usage for up to 10 appliances

Siposs reviews the results and makes evaluations about his energy usage on a daily basis. “If the gauge looks high for whatever reason, I look around our house and I try to see if we can do better or reduce the amount of energy we’re using.”

Did You Know?

  • Hawaii has more EV charge stations per person than any other state: more than 200 are being installed at over 80 public sites, plus nearly 200 private charge spots, so far.
  • By the end of 2011, more than 10,000 customer-sited PV systems on Oahu, Hawaii Island and on Maui County totaled over 78 MW of solar capacity with rapid growth continuing. Hawaii ranks second in the nation for installed solar watts per person.
  • Hawaii has the world’s largest commercial electricity generator fueled exclusively with biofuels; the State’s energy plan aims for an agricultural biofuels industry that, by 2025, can provide 350 million gallons of biofuels.

Educational Initiative Fosters Energy Work Force

More than 500 students in three years have completed educational programs provided by the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui. An institute of the University of Hawaii, SLIM officials say they’ve already reached many of their long-term goals and in particular, have been successful in partnering to support the Maui Smart Grid Project.

“Our goal is to train people locally in skills for the future,” SLIM Executive Director Jennifer Chirico said. Beginning in 2010, SLIM developed and implemented more than 20 new sustainability training programs that reach students on Maui, Molokai and Lanai. SLIM’s programs are tied to nationally recognized certifications and students have enrolled with the purpose of gaining skills that would lead to jobs.

SLIM offers classes in Renewable Energy, Energy and Water Efficiency, Business and Agriculture. The institute partnered with the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute to provide training and internships for 15 students to conduct energy audits on homes in the Maui Smart Grid project. After earning professional certification in home energy surveys and gaining experience through Maui Smart Grid, some of the students have since opened up energy audit businesses. ““We bring national training programs to Maui to train people locally so employees do not have to recruit off island. Our program with HNEI was a huge success in providing nationally recognized energy training and hands-on experience for local residents, and in creating a sustainable workforce on Maui in a new and developing industry,” Chirico said.

For more information, visit http://sustainablemaui.org

Measuring Another Solar Power Benefit

If you are a solar panel owner, you probably know that the system component called the inverter converts the panels DC (direct current) output to AC (alternating current). This inverter simply makes your solar power usable to your home and the power grid. The Maui Smart Grid project is attempting to measure another benefit of this inverter. Power that is used by electric motors in air conditioners, pool pumps, fans, appliances and power tools will cause a slight change to the electric wave shape. With no intervention, the slightly distorted wave will be pro- pagated back on to the electricity grid. This distortion can be measured and represented as power factor (PF). The good news is your inverter acts like a capacitor and will clean up that distortion.

MEDB staffers Willow Krause and Lory Basa have contacted residents with a second electricity meter for their solar output. HNEI has upgraded these meters to measure the improvements that the inverters have made to the distorted electrical wave.

For more information, Silver Spring Networks suggest the following links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_factor

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capacitor

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volt-mpere_reactive

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