Emergency back-up project takes flight in Honolulu

Dan Meisenzahl
Dan Meisenzahl
Andy Snow
Andy Snow

By Teri Okita – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Powering up in case of emergency. Plans for back-up generators at Honolulu International are taking off - ensuring the airport will stay up-and-running in case of a natural disaster or other emergencies.

The planned facility includes four generators that will provide up to 10 megawatts of power, if needed.

Today, a Hawaiian kahu (reverend) blessed the future site. When all is said and done, a five story facility will be built behind a brown fence on Rodgers street near the airport, and will house those four generators. If we ever have a natural disaster or island-wide outage, like the one on Oahu in December 2008, the airport will still be able to run normally.

DOT spokesman, Dan Meisenzahl, says "About 55 percent of its power will still be available and that's more than enough for planes to take-off, to land, and for us to deal with everybody safely."

Right now, Honolulu's airport has about 1.2 megawatts of back-up power - which only meets basic federal standards. "It's not ideal, cause you gotta fire things up," says Meisenzahl. "It takes time, and it slows the airport down, almost to a stop, and our goal is to keep this airport and keep every harbor and keep every airport in the state open."

The project comes with a 20 million dollar pricetag, but through a partnership with Hawaiian Electric, HECO will eventually pick up about three-fourths of the tab. In exchange, the power company will pull energy from the facility onto its grid - when the airport doesn't need it. HECO will also pay to maintain it.

"There's an existing HECO substation that we'll tie into," explains Andy Snow, the Watts company's senior project manager. Watts will be building the new facility. "We're basically putting four large generators into a concrete-framed building, and then, we'll also have a fuel farm that will fuel the facility."

Two, 52,000 gallon bio-diesel storage tanks will supply fuel for the generators. The project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2012.

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