With continued growth and development anticipated for Central Maui that will require more reliable and clean energy, Maui Electric Company will begin construction of the Kuihelani Substation near the intersection of Kuihelani Highway and Maui Lani Parkway this month. Construction is scheduled to be completed by end of this year. During construction, no extended interruptions to electrical service and minimal traffic impacts to the area are currently expected.
Approved by the Hawai‘i Public Utilities Commission in March 2016, and following community meetings with residents and businesses, the new substation will enable electricity to be reliably distributed to homes, schools, and businesses in this growing area. It will also provide the capability to integrate more renewable energy resources to the grid through improved monitoring and state-of-the-art communications equipment. Should a circuit experience a fault, or an abnormal amount of electric current, this substation gives Maui Electric the ability to isolate a problem to only portions of the system and prevent more widespread outages.
Planned for the most optimal site to provide power to Central Maui, the substation will sit on three acres of land approximately 35 feet from the Kuihelani Highway. It is considered a “low-profile” substation that is built compactly and the equipment will not stand as tall as a “high-profile” substation like the one located on Dairy Road. The substation’s electrical lines will be underground going across Kuihelani Highway. In the former cane fields, six poles and about 500 feet of overhead lines will connect the substation to the existing transmission line. Landscaping that addresses security needs and aesthetics is currently being determined.
Currently, about 1,200 residential, business, and large commercial customers in the Maui Lani area are served by the Waiinu Substation in Wailuku and Kanaha Substation in Kahului. With more than 30 new projects expected in Central Maui, including developing subdivisions, the Kahului Airport rental car facility, the Maui Business Park and the Waiale Water Treatment Facility, the Kuihelani Substation will serve this growing area.
Earlier proposed temporary distributed generation (DG) units will not be part of the substation at this time. The company recently requested to suspend the proposal for the units as it further evaluates other customer options, including the proposed Fast Demand Response (DR) program expansion. This program incentivizes business customers to voluntarily reduce their electrical consumption to help keep the grid stable and prevent outages when the demand for electricity exceeds generation capacity.
“As Central Maui continues to develop, the Kuihelani Substation will provide electricity to our growing communities, including areas like Maui Lani,” said Emily Smith, the substation project lead at Maui Electric. “This ensures everyone will continue to receive reliable power when they need it.”