HECO Answers Questions On Massive Blackout

Lynne Unemori
Lynne Unemori

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's been a week and a half, since a massive earthquake, hit our state.

And the Hawaiian Electric Company is still being peppered by questions about the massive blackout, that followed.

HECO spokesperson Lynne Unemori spoke with KHNL News 8 on Tuesday morning.

Marvin: Last night you had a big meeting, it's been a crazy and an intense week and a half. First of all, what are the latest updates if any?

Lynne: Well, last night what we did was present to the public a presentation that we had given to the PUC to try to explain to them the facts that we know now, about what happened last Sunday and the response that followed, so that we could also get their comments and concerns, and try to address them as we move forward with a much more thorough review of what happened.

Marvin: Well it has been a mixed bag, when it comes to HECO's response. Folks in the Leeward side Pearl City, Aiea, well they couldn't be happier. Folks in the town side, the Windward side they're still smarting. Once and for all, can you please describe how the decisions were made to bring power on in the different communities, and the thought process there.

Lynne: We know how frustrating it was for anyone who was out of power for any length of time, but especially those who came on at the end. And really, when you're bringing up a cold electric grid it is so important to move very carefully. We have to bring up just a little bit of power at the power plant, at a little bit of load and stabilize the electric system. You're always trying to maintain that balance, especially in the early stages. It's so important because any imbalance can kick the system back to the start and it will begin the restoration all over again. It will mean longer power outages for people, and that would be even more frustrating.

Marvin: Now for those folks who, as I mentioned, town side, the windward side, I'm pretty confident that they're saying, "Well, why not us first?" What goes in the decision making there?

Lynne: It's part of that stabilization of the electric grid that I talked to you about just a minute ago. You need to stabilize the area around the power plants first. When you bring up some of the generation on the electric grid you want to make sure that you add electric load quickly to provide that balance, and the way you can do that most quickly is by restoring customers that are in the vicinity of the power plants, and these are the power plants that are on the west side of the island.

Marvin: Now there are also, as you well know from last night, as well as the other meetings and media coverage, is that there are complaints about the communication. Have you learned anything? Has there been discussions and what has come out of those discussions so far?

Lynne: We absolutely acknowledge that we have to do a better job of communicating with the public. We were trying, we ran into the same kind of technology challenges with communication devices that everyone else did, but that's an explanation, it's not an excuse. We know that customers needed information, they deserve it, and we're going to do better.

Marvin: I guess one final thing is, we've had subsequent outages in the Mililani area, as well as Kaneohe. Is that going to be ongoing? Is that part of this process, and what can we expect in the future?

Lynne: We'll the recent outages that folks may have had over the weekend this past weekend, we have no indications that they're due to any residual effects of the earthquake at this time. So, mainly, those have been problems with underground lines cable faults, but not related to the earthquakes that we can tell.