Employees recognized for powering innovation
by Donica Kaneshiro | Feb. 24, 2021
Each year, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) recognizes leaders and innovators for achievements in collaborative research and development projects. This year, teams from our company won four of EPRI’s prestigious Technology Transfer Awards.
This is a remarkable achievement, and just one example of the innovative work our employees do every day to break new ground and continuously improve processes.
“EPRI considers how the research drives progress in the electric utility industry and how it delivers benefits to society,” said Darren Ishimura, Grid Technologies director. “It’s rare that a utility will receive four awards in a given year.”
Our employees’ research and development projects directly benefit our customers by increasing efficiency, saving time and money.
Karin Kimura, Environmental director, said, “I was surprised but proud that we were able to contribute to EPRI’s research and to provide data that other members as well as the EPA could use.”
Karin’s project showed that the default in-stack ratio the Environmental Protection Agency was using for Nitrogen dioxide and Nitrogen oxide was much too high when modeling compliance with national ambient air quality standards.
“Based on some expertise and knowledge of our plant personnel, we learned that 50% was much too high,” she said. The team supported this assertion with measurements they took at our power plant stacks.
The more accurate results help avoid unnecessary expense when making power plant modifications.
Jimmy Yao, Electrification of Transportation manager, worked with seven other utilities to study the effectiveness of various programs to incentivize purchasing electric vehicles under certain conditions.
“With a big chunk of fossil fuel usage being taken up by ground transportation, it just makes sense to increase EV adoption,” Jimmy said. “The results show that at least in Hawaiʻi, the incentive that had the most influence on affecting someone to purchase an electric vehicle was giving them a rebate off the purchase of a car.”
Henry Lee, Troy Uyehara and Michelle Sakata were recognized for applying tools that account for dynamic conditions that will allow us to more efficiently integrate renewable and distributed energy resources on to our grid, which creates the potential for lowering resource requirements and reducing production costs without sacrificing reliability.
Alan Lee and Alan Hirayama were lauded for a project focused on developing a methodology to assess hourly hosting capacity for our distribution circuits while factoring in the effects of smart inverters and various DER programs. These results have a direct impact on DER Interconnection and IGP processes.
These awards show that innovative solutions are being developed in all parts of our company and our employees are driving to be more active and aggressive in pursuing customer value through research and development, Darren said.
“Whether we’re using new tools to make operational decisions or supporting DER interconnections or improving modeling for air quality to support compliance and permitting or helping to drive EV adoption, we’re transitioning from R&D to commercial solutions that bring value to our customers,” he said.
Donica Kaneshiro is a communications consultant at Hawaiian Electric Company.