$190 million will strengthen Hawaii’s electric grid

February 14, 2024

Hawaiian Electric will move forward with a $190 million, five-year resilience plan to harden electric grids and defend against wildfires on the islands of Oahu, Maui, Hawaii, Lanai and Molokai. The state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently approved the Climate Adaptation Transmission and Distribution Resilience Program application. Hawaiian Electric serves 95% of Hawaii’s 1.4 million residents.

The utility will use $95 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to upgrade its transmission and distribution network. The funding comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The federal agency awarded the funds in the wake of the August 2023 Maui windstorms and wildfires. The state will contribute an additional $95 million as part of a 50% match.

“As climate change progresses, the frequency and severity of severe weather events is likely to increase,” the PUC said in its decision to greenlight the program. “Given the critical services that rely on electric service to function and our state’s geographic isolation, it is imperative that our electric grid be able to withstand these growing challenges.” A more resilient electric grid will address rising wildfire threats, lessen damage severity and restore service faster.

Hawaiian Electric will replace and strengthen 2,100 utility poles and conductors on high-priority transmission lines under the first phase of the plan. The utility will also increase use of cameras and sensors in high-risk wildfire areas to lessen their severity.

The plan also includes removing weak, dead or otherwise compromised trees at risk of falling on power lines and potentially starting fires. Other key components of the utility’s program include hardening and replacing poles that support multiple circuits with fire-resistant materials. The utility will harden 1,200 across the islands of Oahu, Hawaii and Maui County.

Hawaiian Electric will harden circuits serving critical customers such as hospitals, public infrastructure and defense facilities. Additionally, the utility will relocate the Maui control center to higher ground to avoid flood risks and develop a backup control center on Oahu.

Strategic Partnerships, Inc. can provide information on contract opportunities, plus existing and future government funding. For more information, contact research@spartnerships.com.

Photo by State Farm

Paul Stinson

Paul Stinson has more than 15 years of journalism experience, including a decade covering the legislative and regulatory affairs of Texas, South Africa, and Germany for an affiliate of Bloomberg, L.P. His experience includes covering voting rights and the sectors of environment, energy, labor, healthcare, and taxes. Stinson joined the team in October as a reporter for SPI’s news publications, which include Government Contracting Pipeline, Texas Government Insider, and the newly-launched Government Market News. He is also a Fulbright Scholar to Germany, and an Arthur F. Burns Fellow. He holds a master’s in journalism from Indiana University.   

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