By Beth Hillyer
(KHNL) - From Waikiki all the way to the leeward side nearly 300,000 customers were without power for more than 12 hours.
Now there are safeguards in place to prevent another island wide blackout.
The quake triggered an island-wide power outage. There were no traffic lights, tourists took to the streets in search of food. One visitor said, "They do a great job in there take you in 4 at a time with flashlights. It's dark in there can't really see too far in front of you. Water Gatorade and potato chips batteries." When power finally returned people rushed out for gas and food.
A year later, Hawaiian Electric Company modified safety relays on it's two largest generating units. HECO officials are confident they addressed the specific conditions that existed last October 15th.
HECO spokesman Darren Pai explains, "It's not something you can rush when you restore power in an island wide outage situation you have to be very careful and very meticulous. What happens is we energize portions of the grid at a time."
That means slowly communities are brought back on line. They start with those closes to the Waiau and Kahe power plants.
"We make sure it's stable and supply and demand on the system are balanced. If that gets out of whack you could crash the entire system and then you are back to square one possibly having long term damage to the equipment," concludes Pai.
And residents learned some lessons as well. they need to be prepared.
"You know it's Hawaii and they always have spam," said one shopper last October.
In a crisis situation people need to know what's going on so HECO installed a land line from it's operations center to an emergency radio station to improve communications.
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