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Hawaii Rejects Smart-Grid Technology

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WASHINGTON, August 2, 2010 – Regulators in the state of Hawaii have recently rejected a $115 million smart grid expansion project funded by residents and businesses. The project would have expanded smart grid to reach 451,000 locations. It was derailed after Hawaii’s Public Utilities Commission denied a request for expanded testing.

The "smart grid" model implies a process of installing new electric meters that can wirelessly communicate with utilities, allowing them to distribute power and handle additional renewable energy more efficiently. However, opponents say the model is just one of many options, all of which should be considered before the state makes a decision.

"Shouldn't we start by asking, 'What are the best choices, how much do they all cost?' instead of, 'Here's the one we really like and here's everything good about it?'" said Mark Duda, president of the Hawaii Solar Energy Association.

One of the key problems the regulators have with the smart grid proposal is its high cost, something which a comparable energy saving program like the installation of solar panels would blunt. Among those arguing for a solar solution is Henry Curtis of the environmental group Life on Land.

"This needs more public discussion before we jump in and pick a particular solution," Curtis said. "In the long run, when we can create power at homes and businesses that supply all the needs of those buildings, then the grid is going to become obsolete."

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