Smart Grid Volunteer Strives To Use Energy From Sun
Motivated by a desire to see technology move forward, Alfred Wolf has volunteered for the Maui Smart Grid project since its inception. “It has gone well and given me access to an assortment of tools to use for working with my energy issues,” he said.
Having the benefit of monitoring his electric usage has provided Wolf “a more precise feel for how energy is used and generated at my place.” He said he tries to use solar energy when possible, instead of relying on electricity. “Knowing how things work makes it easier to accomplish your goals,” he added. “Good data leads to good decisions.”
Wolf said he believes it’s important to participate in the Smart Grid project and contribute toward the island’s efforts to help the state reach a goal of 70 percent clean energy by the year 2030 as spelled out in the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative goals. Of that 70 percent, 40 percent will come from renewable energy production, and 30 percent from energy efficiency.
Wolf made his own solar hot water heater in 1978 and has been striving to use alternative energy options since then. “It is the way to a sustainable future on our planet,” he said.
Did You Know?
- Because of Hawaii’s high renewable energy penetration and the fact that utility power plants generally utilize fossil fuel more efficiently than automobile engines, in Hawaii it takes on average about 31% less fossil fuel to power an electric vehicle as compared to the average conventional gasoline power vehicle.
- Wind energy is Hawaii’s second most utilized renewable energy resource, accounting for about 29% of the state’s total renewable energy generation in 2012.
- Solar energy in 2012 provided 15% of Hawaii’s renewable energy generation.
SLIM Shares Survey Results
Overall, participants in the Maui Smart Grid Project report that they’ve adapted their use of electricity and reduced their energy consumption in the year-old program. That was the findings of an energy usage study conducted by the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui.
SLIM Executive Jennifer Chirico shared the results during a recent volunteer gathering coordinated by Maui Economic Development Board. The SLIM study was carried out with the assistance of students in the University of Hawaii Maui College Sustainable Living Institute of Maui program. The study included an energy audit prior to the start of the Smart Grid project in July 2011.
Of 800 homes in Maui Meadows in South Maui, there were 68 residents who participated in the project and volunteered to have smart meters in their homes. Chirico said volunteers monitored their consumption using web portal and in-home device options. Some used both.
For all program participants from August 2011 to July 2013, average monthly energy usage dropped from a high of nearly 900 kilowatt hours in November 2011 to a low of about 475 kilowatt hours in August 2012. Average usage for the period began at just under 800 kwH in August 2011 and ended at around 600 kwH in July 2013.
The program also compared average monthly energy usage of program volunteers versus non-volunteers. For the period of August 2012 to June 2013, volunteer usage was at or below 600 kwH in seven of 11 months. For four of the 11 months usage was somewhat more than 600 kwH, reaching a high usage of about 700 kwH in December 2012 for the volunteer group.
For every month, the non-volunteer group had higher power usage, reaching a high of nearly 1,800 kwH in June 2013. In all cases, the non-volunteers average monthly energy use was more than 600 kwH. Comments from those using the web portal option included: “Lots of good info,” “easy to use,” “review usage.” Others said: “shows me when we use most electricity,” “helps me find energy leaks” and “easy to understand.” Some users had adjustment issues with privacy, how well the portal operated and being unable to view results in real time.
Users of in-home devices applauded their advantage of being able to see results in “near real time.” Other “likes” included: “It gives me an idea of what draws a lot of energy,” “giving me current data (could measure fan energy usage, for instance),” and “the IHD is great. It tells me when I am generating power and my net generation/ use. Easy to use. Real time information.”