Power surges in Kalihi affect several businesses

Hawaii Coffee Company was one of the businesses affected by the power surges Thursday morning.
Hawaii Coffee Company was one of the businesses affected by the power surges Thursday morning.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Power surges hit the Kalihi-Palama and Sand Island area Thursday morning, disrupting service to residents and business owners.

Even our own Hawaii News Now Sunrise morning news felt the problem during its broadcast on KFVE. While the news program stayed on air, even flickered at one point, most of the surges sent the lights out inside the studio, while backup generators kept the broadcast seamless.

Hawaiian Electric Company officials say there was a malfunction with some protective relays around area transmission lines around 8:30 a.m.

Several businesses were affected by the outages.

Taisha Fernandez was frustrated when her computer kept going off.

"I was in Oahu Work Links, looking for jobs when the thing went off seven to eight times. Every time I tried to get it, I got to that moment.It would die," said Fernandez. "This guy next to me was getting irritated because it was like his 10th time on the computer and it was just not happening.

One business hit hard by the power surges was Hawaii Coffee Company that produces Lion and Royal Kona Coffee brands.

President Jim Wayman said the outage caused its main coffee grinder to breakdown. Now they'll have to order an $8,000 spare part from Chicago and it won't likely be until late next week before it can be fixed. In the meantime, a backup grinder that works at one-sixth the speed of the broken grinder will try to carry them through.

According to Wayman, they immediately shut down all the machinery following the surges to protect the equipment, including their espresso machines in the retail shop. For two hours, about 50 workers stopped producing coffee all together and now Wayman says it'll mean round the clock operations and thousands of dollars in overtime to make up for the disruption.

Overall, Wayman estimates the company lost about $25,000 from Thursday's surges.

The company says it's making sure any extra coffee products on the neighbor islands are brought over to Oahu to fill the needs of its clients, with a priority being restaurants and hotels, followed by those at retailers like Longs Drug Stores, which are counting on inventory right now during a special priced advertisement that's running.

Wayman doesn't blame HECO for Thursday's event and says he understands that "things happen" but when you add up the cost of lost businesses like this across the affected area, it's big money for companies who cannot afford to lose money during these difficult economic times.

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