A Multi-Million Dollar Back Up Electricity System for East Oahu Under Way

Darren Pai
Darren Pai
Sam Owens
Sam Owens
Caylene Valdez
Caylene Valdez

EAST OAHU (KHNL) --   A $64 million project, approved by the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission, will help Hawaiian Electric Company create a back up system for east Oahu.  This comes a day after HECO announced a five percent rate hike.  But company officials said there is no direct link between the two announcements.

The project will create additional alternative routes to deliver power to neighborhoods such as Downtown Honolulu, Ala Moana, Moiliili and Hawaii Kai.  It will basically cover all of east Oahu all the way out to Makapuu Point.

The project will benefit people who live in single family homes, as well as those in high rise buildings.  Folks who live in east Oahu had mixed opinions about the plan.

Power lines help bring electricity to our homes.  But what happens when they go down, and knock out power to a neighborhood?  With that in mind, Hawaiian Electric Company will start a multi-million dollar project that will strengthen its infrastructure.

"What this is going to do is give us an alternate means of transmitting power to east Oahu," said Darren Pai, HECO's spokesperson.  "It's going to create a backup for the existing circuits which are used to transmit power to east Oahu right now."

Fifty six percent of HECO's customers live in east Oahu, many of whom think it's a good idea.

"I think it'll be nice to just have the peace of mind knowing that if the power goes out, we'll have a backup source," said Sam Owens, a Punchbowl resident.

But not everyone is on board.

"I'm for it, but I actually think that's going to be a waste of money in a way," said Caylene Valdez, another Punchbowl resident.

This project will strengthen back up power to the region by upgrading equipment and improving underground power lines. It could also help during natural disasters, but it's not specifically designed for emergency situations.

"We're doing pretty well right now, and the last power outage was during the earthquake and that was a while ago," said Valdez.

While some say the project is too expensive, others say it's good to be ready.

"I think in the end, ultimately, just having that peace of mind, that we have a backup power source, it'll be worth the time and money," said Owens.

The price tag, once again, is roughly $64 million.  The first phase starts early next year.

At this point, HECO does not have an estimated completion time for the project.