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Drop in energy demand greatest on Maui County

The Maui News

Average demand for electricity declined by 14 percent on Maui during the week of March 22, the biggest drop among three islands as electricity use fell during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hawaiian Electric said Thursday that it has seen a significant reduction in the use of electricity as tourism activities decline, businesses close and thousands of residents stay home to slow the spread of COVID-19.

For the week of March 22, Maui saw the largest decline in average system peak demand — the point of highest energy use — at 14 percent. On both Oahu and Hawaii island, the average was 7 percent less than in previous weeks.

Gov. David Ige issued a stay-at-home order on March 23 and soon after imposed a quarantine on visitors, essentially shutting down arrivals.

“Such fast and pronounced changes in demand are something we haven’t seen before and they’re a measure of how quickly business activity and individual behavior were affected by the pandemic,” said Jim Kelly, vice president of corporate relations at Hawaiian Electric. “Hawaii reflects the trends that utilities everywhere are seeing as economies adjust to the impacts of COVID-19.”

According to a news release, the reduction in daytime peak demand on Maui and Oahu was especially drastic as schools, offices, government buildings, hotels and businesses closed. Peak daytime demand fell 21 percent on Maui and 16 percent on Oahu after March 22.

Maui saw record lows for daytime generation on sunny days when private rooftop solar systems were supplying the most energy.

Kelly said adequate supply of electricity isn’t something customers should worry about for the duration of the emergency.

“Especially with consumption down, we have plenty of generation resources available,” he said.

Hawaiian Electric remains operational for generation, emergency repairs and utility maintenance and construction. Other activities, including customer service information and payment processing, customer installations and rooftop solar application processing, remain available online, by phone or mail.

Service disconnections have been suspended through May 17. Customers who are having difficulty paying their bill due to the coronavirus pandemic are encouraged to contact the company to make a payment arrangement.

To submit a payment arrangement request form, visit hawaiianelectric.com/customerserviceoptions.

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