Some businesses on rail line suspect passing trains linked to recent power outages

Some businesses on rail line suspect passing trains linked to power outages

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As testing for Honolulu’s rail line continues, some nearby businesses are reporting repeated power outages.

They say problems with the electricity started a couple months ago.

Some shop owners say they’ve had their power knocked out completely. Others describe brownout conditions, saying their lights will dim or flicker.

Many of those impacted believe power fluctuations are caused by the passing trains, and both rail officials and engineers from Hawaiian Electric are investigating that claim.

Among the businesses affected by the power issues is Pinoy’s Best in Waipahu.

The eatery has been doing business at its Westgate Center location three years, watching Honolulu rail go up outside. Workers say just recently they starting having problems with the power.

“The lights go off,” said Vina Guiling.

Maria Guerrero added, “It’s like a trip. We have to turn it back on at the panel.”

The women say it all started about a month ago and the problem happens several times a week. The latest incident was Monday.

“All of a sudden it went down,” said Guiling. “After a minute, it came back on.”

Guerrero said she noticed it happening when there’s activity on the tracks.

“There’s like a train pass by. It happens that time,” she said.

HNN went door-to-door talking to businesses owners along a mile-long stretch of Farrington Highway ― from Awamoku Street to Pupukahi Street.

Not everyone reported being effected, but many shops did have similar problems.

“Our electricity goes off for the whole unit,” said Jen Long, who has been working at the Little Caesars on Moloalo Street for five years. She says issues with the electricity started a couple months ago.

“We’ve been experiencing it a lot,” she said.

Long believes the outages are directly related to rail.

Derick Chun works at Azama Fish Market about a half mile down the road. He says his power has never gone out completely but the lights will dim.

“You got this regular light. Then it will come down a little bit. And go back on,” he said.

Chun said he’s not sure what was causing it.

“When it was happening it would be a couple times a day,” he said. “But I haven’t noticed it for a while.”

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation declined to do an interview about the reported power issues but said in a statement:

“HART does not believe the current train testing being performed by its contractor Hitachi Rail Honolulu has impacted electrical service to customers in Waipahu, but won’t know for sure until there is verification of reported brownouts and whether any other data is available and can be analyzed.

“HART plans to monitor its power voltage use 24/7 for the next few weeks in the Waipahu area. In the meantime, HART continues to work closely with Hawaiian Electric Company to make sure electrical service remains available for all customers.”

Meanwhile, officials from Hawaiian Electric said that engineers are analyzing data from field monitors in Waipahu and reviewing HART testing logs “to determine whether there is any correlation between rail testing and reported power interruptions and power quality issues.”

The statement continued: “We continue to work closely with HART to ensure that power to customers along the rail line is not impacted by rail activity.”

Back at Pinoy’s Best, workers hope that HECO can quickly pinpoint what’s causing the problem, saying it’s a hassle every time they’re left in the dark. Guiling said, “We have to reboot the systems in our computer and we have to re-function the lights as well.”

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