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While visiting family in Maui this past weekend there was a front page article mentioning Friday’s outages on this island of ~160,000 people.  Right during rush hour people were stuck in elevators, traffic lights were out and on top of ALL that, the premiere viewing of Star Wars was interrupted to the point that people left the theater.

Being an island, Maui is somewhat like Alaska in that when the ‘grid goes down’, there is not a vast network outside of its borders to borrow or buy electricity from obviously. Almost three quarters of the electricity on the island is generated from oil, and just over a fifth is procured by wind.  Thus there a few other renewables such biogas, and solar, yet almost no hydro such as is capitalized by Alaska’s rain forest clime. Having said this, renewables make up just over a quarter of Maui’s total electrical generation which certainly is promising -yet being that much of it is variable, this requires quite a storage system and coordination with diesel generators.

So while terrain and weather are quite different, the 49th and 50th state certainly have similar challenges in electrical distribution.  In fact you could say, they are the only two states that have a grid unto their own!

 

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