Oahu Consumers Save Almost US$3 million in Electricity

Home Energy Report pilot program in Hawaii has saved an estimated 7.54 million kWh and US$2.94 million.
Published: Wed 21 Jan 2015

Hawaii Energy,the ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency program serving the islands of Hawaii, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and Oahu, is sending a number of Oahu residents free reports in the mail that compare their electricity usage to their neighbors in an effort to encourage energy efficiency, according to the ratepayer-funded energy conservation and efficiency programme.

Raising energy efficiency awareness

The reports, which 57,500 residents will begin receiving this month, are designed to provide electricity consumption data, provide customized energy saving tips and track month-to-month progress.

Each household’s energy usage is compared with 100 anonymous homes nearby that are similar in age, square footage and number of bedrooms.

“This is a very unique opportunity for people to see how their electricity habits stack up with their neighbours which can be a great motivator for positive change,” Hawaii Energy Program Director Ray Starling said in a statement. “From years past, the reports proved to be very helpful to raise awareness about the importance of energy efficiency and how it can really save money.”

The reports will be followed by three additional monthly reports to illustrate each household’s progress towards saving electricity.

Originally launched in the Ewa Plain area on Oahu in 2011, followed by the other islands the next year, the Home Energy Report pilot programme has saved approximately 7.54 million kWh and US$2.94 million toward electricity bills in 75,000 households.

Consumer awareness limits outage time

Consumer awareness of energy consumption can certainly go a long way when utilities have a crisis like asset failure as was the case recently.

Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) recently applauded residents in Oahu for their positive response towards conserving power during rolling power outages. The outages affected an estimated 27,000 customers. Oahu residents' energy conservation caused power demand to lower and remain from climbing as high. Operators say this allowed them to reduce the number and duration of power outages.

The reason for the outages was as a result of a 180MW power plant, operated by independent power producer AES, went out of service unexpectedly. Another power plant was only producing 50% of its maximum output. "We had this unfortunate situation where you had three of the largest generators on the island out of service. We also didn't have any contribution on the North Shore. There wasn't any wind for wind generated power," said HECO spokesman Darren Pai. Pai said they couldn't get any more electricity because all other power plants were at maximum capacity.

In a recent article, Customer Behaviour (not incentives) Can Shave Peak Demand, Engerati discusses Opower’s findings that even without extra economic incentive, many people are willing to turn down the thermostat when asked. It would seem that generally, power consumers want to conserve when utilities ask them to. This means that utilities may no longer have to spend millions on residential demand response programmes.

"Behavioural Demand Response will fundamentally change how our clients pursue residential demand response programs," said Opower CEO, Dan Yates. "In partnership with innovative utilities, we delivered reliable demand reduction through the use of behavioural science, big data analytics, and real-time communication on the Opower 5.5: Flex platform. BDR proves that customer behaviour can play a significant role in helping to shave peak demand."

Hawaii Energy is taking its energy efficiency goals very seriously. Engerati wrote recently about the programme’s plans to pilot an energy efficiency auction with up to US$2.1 million in incentive funds. [Engerati - Incentivizing Energy Efficiency – Hawaii Opens Auction Bidding.] Hawaii Energy promised an expansion of its energy efficiency activities during 2014 to facilitate acceleration of the state’s transformation to more efficient, clean‐energy‐tolerant and customer‐accommodating electric grids. The Energy Efficiency Auction is just one of many upcoming energy efficiency initiatives currently under development.