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Maui Electrical Company (MECO)

With several generating units utilizing a variety of technologies, the Maalaea Power Plant is one of the largest industrial complexes in Hawaii.

American Electric has been Maalaea’s primary electrical contractor through nearly two decades of continuous expansion. Thanks to its strong track record and the owner’s confidence in the company’s capabilities, American Electric was once again called upon, this time to construct Maalaea’s newest generator, the 20 MW Unit 18.

Rapidly growing power demands on the island of Maui and long delays in the permitting process meant that it was essential that the plant be constructed and put on-line quickly. With its broad range of skills and depth of resources, American Electric was able to “turn-key” the installation, which included sensors, control systems, internal power distribution, and primary output distribution up to the substation/transmission grid. And American Electric’s design-assist capability provided substantial savings in several areas. Despite significant design changes as the job progressed, in less than a year American Electric completed over 25,000 man-hours of electrical and control installation and testing—with the demanding and complex work completed on or ahead of schedule.



The new Fresh Fruit Line at the Maui Land & Pineapple Company’s Kahului facility was a highly automated system: a major investment designed to increase productivity. Building their control system would be a complex and large-scale endeavor, involving substation/primary power, switchgear, motors, SCADA and other automation and process controls, emergency power, and lighting. American Electric worked with the owner and engineers over a period of several months to value-engineer the sophisticated, state-of-the-art process control system and associated power requirements, bringing the project within budget. With its broad capabilities, depth of resources, and a crew of up to 40 skilled electricians and control technicians, American Electric was able to “turn-key” the entire project, and do so on an extremely accelerated schedule. The project went from groundbreaking to testing and successful start-up in four months.



The new Kakaako campus of the University of Hawaii’s School of Medicine consists of three large, separate structures: an education/administration building, a research center, and a central plant. American Electric’s expertise was needed to install the controls for the entire HVAC system, connecting the chiller and cooling towers, ventilation and air conditioning valves, temperature sensors, and emergency power systems. This was done for the whole campus, including the research center’s sophisticated laboratory with its precise environmental requirements. American Electric’s specialists also installed a new Building Automation System, which gave the complex a coordinated, centralized control for its HVAC and associated systems. After successful testing and start-up, the world-class John A. Burns School of Medicine was up and running.




Lualualei’s 4,160-volt regulators, which powered its vital antenna systems, were in poor condition. Built in the 1940’s, they were no longer functioning properly, yet their unique design meant it would not be cost-effective to replace them. Because of its specialized capabilities, American Electric was selected to test, assess and rebuild the units, in accordance with the Navy’s strict engineering standards and on a tight timetable.

As part of the full-scale diagnostic analysis, the 12-foot-tall transformer was de-tanked and the windings removed. Each internal component was then inspected and measured. Worn or defective components were reverse-engineered, and new replacements manufactured. Electrical insulation was renewed, and the tap changing mechanism was reassembled and tested, including its control sequences. As technicians handled internal repairs, the tank was sandblasted inside and out and recoated with an epoxy paint system. With all its elements rebuilt, the unit was reassembled, filled with dielectric oil, tested, and reinstalled on-site. A critical piece of national defense infrastructure is ready for another generation of service, thanks to the unique capabilities, facilities, and expertise of American Electric.




Ford Island was in the midst of a major redevelopment project by the U.S. Navy. The historic island in Pearl Harbor was to be the site of new administrative headquarters, educational centers, and residential areas. To accommodate this dramatic growth, the site’s electrical capacity would have to be expanded just as dramatically. A new Ford Island substation would have to connect to the electrical grid via two 46kV circuits, running nearly a mile across the harbor—beneath the sea floor. A pull of this length, with a cable this size, had never been attempted before.

American Electric managed the installation of the 3-inch diameter cable, shipped on several 48,000-pound cable reels, in a job that pushed the envelope for the company and the industry. Using Horizontal Directional Drilling technology, a mile-long bore was made from Ford Island, through the seabed below Pearl Harbor, and surfacing on the adjacent shore. Two pre-fabricated, 24-inch steel casings, enclosing 6-inch high-density Polyurethane raceway ducts, were then pulled through the bore to form the cableway. Extensive calculations were performed by our engineers to ensure that the tensile strength limits of the cable were not exceeded as the six 5,300-foot, 42,000-pound sections of cable were pulled through the cableway. Computerized data collectors monitored and recorded cable strain throughout the evolution. Meticulous precautions were also essential to preclude disturbing the nearby USS Arizona Memorial and other historical sites. Including shore-side sections, a total of 54,000 feet of high voltage cable was installed, including twelve terminations and eighteen splices. The project was completed well ahead of schedule.