Sunday, July 18, 2004


David Waller, vice president of customer solutions for Hawaiian Electric Co., turns off the overhead lights in his office and leaves the desk lamp on. Besides saving energy, Waller says it creates an atmosphere that helps him think.

HECO exec looks
for solutions

David Waller

>> Has been promoted to vice president of customer solutions at Hawaiian Electric Co. He will be responsible for HECO's energy efficiency and conservation programs, such as its residential solar water-heating program.

>> Waller previously served as energy services manager, a role he now oversees. He started with HECO in 1989.

How much has isle power consumption risen in the past few years?

We're fortunate at this point to have an economy that is growing stronger and with that is higher electrical consumption. Also the military projects are coming. We have an exceptional residential construction market going on and those factors lead to increasing electrical consumption.

(For Hawaiian Electric on Oahu, during the past five years, residential and commercial power consumption has grown an average 1.5 percent a year. For Maui Electric, which serves Maui, Molokai and Lanai, consumption has grown about 2.67 percent per year. On the Big Island, consumption has grown 2.69 percent per year.)

Is growth in the Ewa plain and air-conditioning a major factor for increased consumption on Oahu?

We are seeing increases in the residential consumption and air-conditioning is a factor. We're seeing more and more people use air-conditioning at home. I think we're seeing that across the island but clearly in the Ewa plain that's one of the leading areas for air-conditioning.

How is energy efficiency in Waikiki?

We've had tremendous success in working with all the major hotels in Waikiki. Many have upgraded their air-conditioning systems. We've had large number of compact fluorescent lights put into the hotels and I think, of all our sectors, they've had the strongest adoption in energy efficiency.

They were one of our earliest adopters but they've continued to adopt energy efficiency. They've moved from the air-conditioning systems and are looking at in-room energy management systems. If someone's not in the room, everything is shut off. Every year they find new ways to save energy and save money.

How many Hawaii residences have taken up using solar?

Since we began our solar water heating incentive program in 1996, we have over 24,000 homes that have participated. The systems that were installed prior to that program totaled about 45,000. Those numbers cover Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, Molokai and Lanai, but not Kauai, since it has a separate electric company.

How much help is a home attic fan?

Certainly a home attic fan as a substitute for a large air-conditioning system will save people money. It will reduce the amount of electricity they use so it is a good thing to try to help bring down the house temperature.

The other things you can do is, you can certainly look at some possible way to put in insulation in your house and in some cases some very simple things: Reducing sunlight on the house by planting trees or vegetation can also do it.

How about businesses? What are the typical inefficiencies for an office?

The kind of programs we offer really look at the whole spectrum of how energy is used in a business. The most readily, easily adopted measures relate to lighting. There's a lot of measures to retrofit lighting. The key option is using T8 fluorescent bulbs to replace T12 bulbs. T12 are an inch and a half. If you can replace that with a T8, which is 1 inch, there's substantial savings.

We provide an incentive that offsets part of the cost of doing a retrofit. The smaller diameter light sources have some efficiency advantage. Also we offer incentives for efficient air-conditioning systems to be retrofitted. We also window tint and other mechanisms. Virtually any conservation that a building could adopt, we have a way to help, either by design studies or rebates.

How much are the rebates?

They are targeted but they can be between 3 and 10 percent of the cost of the installation.

What types of conservation programs is HECO implementing?

We also have various account managers and other people that work with large businesses. First of all we want to make sure commercial customers are on the proper rate structure. One of the offerings that we do is we have time-of-use rates. If they can adjust or modify their use of electricity when we're not on peak, we have incentives for that. I think the best example of that is thermal storage.

You run the air-conditioning at night and freeze water. During the day you melt ice and use that water. With that investment, the customer gets a lower electric bill. I think we've got about 10 such systems on Oahu.

Does HECO have any type of removal program or other incentives to replace old, inefficient appliances?

We're sure thinking about that and working on that but we don't have anything in place today. When people look for an appliance, one of the key ways is to look for an energy star rating. It's a rating system originated with the Environmental Protection Agency and when you see an energy star rating on an appliance, it means it's more efficient.


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