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Maui Leads Hawaiian Islands In Electricity Use Decrease

Casey Harlow

WAILUKU — Hawaii has experienced a significant reduction in the use of electricity because of the coronavirus, with Maui's use dropping the most among the three largest islands.

Hawaiian Electric said the reduction is linked to a decline in tourism activities, business closures and residents staying home to slow the spread of the virus, The Maui News reported  Monday.

Maui had a 14% decline in average system peak demand, the point of highest energy use, during the week of March 22, the utility said.

On Oahu and Hawaii island, the decline was by 7%, the company said.

The change came after Democratic Gov. David Ige issued a stay-at-home order March 23 and then imposed a quarantine on visitors.

"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, Hawaiian Electric vice president of corporate relations.

He added: "Hawaii reflects the trends that utilities everywhere are seeing as economies adjust to the impacts of COVID-19."

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

The reduction in daytime peak electricity demand on Maui and Oahu came as schools, offices, government buildings, hotels, and businesses closed. Peak daytime demand fell 21% on Maui and 16% percent on Oahu after March 22, Hawaiian Electric said.

Maui experienced record lows for daytime electricity generation on sunny days when private rooftop solar systems supplied the majority of energy, the company said.

An adequate supply of electricity should not be a concern for customers for the duration of the health emergency, Kelly said.

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

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