By: Beth Hillyer
(KHNL) - A problem at Kahe Power Plant nearly left thousands of Oahu customers in the dark. But those same customers helped stop the massive outage from ever happening. Hawaiian Electric Company tonight narrowly avoided initiating rolling blackouts.
The concern came after several power generators faltered. And HECO was prepared to pull the plug on nearly 50-thousand customers to prevent a catastrophic power grid failure.
The problems started at Kahe Power Plant. Seaweed blocking intake screens at the plant cut down on production. To compound matters an independent power producer shut down. And with peak hours approaching HECO feared the worst.
Spokesman Peter Rosegg explains, "This is peak time use for energy from 5-9pm and we are in an energy shortfall." So HECO asked the public to conserve energy. "We have enough capacity to get through we hope. Had problems on system would like people to conserve. If we can't get enough conservation we will have to do selective outages and turn off some neighborhoods," says Rosegg.
That way HECO can protect the system, "If we didn't do selective outages then the automatic would trip in."
HECO was prepared to turn off power to some 50-thousand customers including neighborhoods in Windward Oahu, North Central Oahu and East Honolulu.
The electricity stayed on in Kailua although the owner of popular diner "Fatboys" closed an hour early as a precaution. At "Fatboys" the owner closed up because he didn't want to be in the predicament of having to clean up the kitchen in the dark.
Crews on deadline remodeling the Kailua Jamba Juice appreciated the electricity. Contractor Tim Reid explains his deadline, "Tonight. Because tomorrow the people are going to come in arrange it the way they want and open so another day would have messed everything up."
Kailua narrowly avoided an outage.