Construction of airport power plant to start within a year - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Construction of airport power plant to start within a year

Brennon Morioka Brennon Morioka

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Friday's power outage on Oahu caused delays and frustrated travelers at the Honolulu International Airport. The state says it's moving forward with plans for a new power plant to keep the airport functioning regardless of what's happening with the rest of Oahu.

The state and Hawaiian Electric Company have been working on the project since the October 2006 earthquake, which knocked out electricity island-wide and crippled airport operations.

It was deja vu Friday night, as airport and airlines workers once again scrambled during a power outage to provide service to travelers.

"We had to call back a lot of people to work, especially our electricians to power up the generators," Brennon Morioka, state transportation director, said. "So we did have some level of downtime that we had to overcome."

Once the generators were up, transportation officials say things ran smoothly compared to the 2006 earthquake.

"We knew exactly what flights were coming in and what equipment we had out there," Morioka said. "So we could use each other's stairs to actually deplane the aircraft because all of the jet bridges obviously weren't working."

The state says HECO is nearly finished with the planning and design of a new power plant on airport property.

"It would allow us to power up much quicker than we have with the emergency generators," Morioka said. "But it's going to allow us to function as an airport regardless of whether or not the rest of the island is without electricity."

The state would own the facility, but the utility company would manage and operate it.

"They will be able to use power and distribute it elsewhere when the airport doesn't need it," Morioka said. "But in the event of a blackout around the island, all of the electricity will be dedicated solely to the airport to keep it at 100%."

The cost of building the airport power plant is estimated at $25 million to $30 million. Construction is expected to begin within the next year and be completed by late 2010.

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