HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian Electric Company and its contractor AES said late Thursday they did not know what caused the second outage in two days at AES' power generating unit -- the largest on the island -- cutting electricity to 57,000 customers across the island.
HECO and AES were running tests at the AES plant at Campbell Industrial Park Thursday afternoon to try to figure out what happened, officials for AES and HECO said.
Hawaiian Electric said the power went out to customers in Waialua, Kahuku, Waihee, Kaneohe, parts of Kailua, the Kapiolani area, downtown Honolulu, Waiakamilo, Moanalua, Halawa and Waipahu starting at 11:22 a.m. Thursday. The outage lasted a little more than an hour in some places, but some customers were restored in about a half hour.
"We were able to restore them back into full service and we got everybody back by 12:40 p.m. Still we understand it is a very busy time of day it's the lunch hour and a lot of customers' businesses are impacted and so we understand their frustration and we thank them for their patience and understanding," said Darren Pai, a HECO spokesman.
A company called AES operates the independent power plant at Campbell Industrial Park that shut down. It's the same plant that went down unexpectedly Wednesday at just about the same time.
HECO said the "targeted emergency outages" were necessary to avoid a more widespread outage or damage to the electric system.
"This afternoon we sent a team of engineers to AES to help them investigate the problem and to look into what's happened to we can take whatever steps necessary to bring them back into service and address this problem so that we can have reliable service for them in the long term," Paid added.
The noon-time outage knocked out traffic lights, left businesses in the dark and people without air conditioning on a hot July day.
When the lights went out at Menehune Mac Chocolate Factory and Gift Center along Waiakamilo Road in Kalihi, Susan Morita thought, "Here we go again."
Her factory had to take quick action to ensure the equipment that keeps their chocolate from melting was not damaged.
"We had to shut down all of our big air conditioning units to make sure when it goes back on, it doesn't trip anything or fry anything, so it takes several hours for it to get back up to the coolness of what we need," Morita said.
The mac nut store remained open, with flashlights lighting up the store and transactions were credit only using Square technology on smartphones, she said.
The Kalihi McDonalds off Waiakamilo Road temporarily closed its doors to new customers and shut down its drive through during the lunch hour outage.
Work also came to a stop at Green Solar in Kalihi.
Artemio Visaya, a spokesman for Green Solar, said, "Well I was on the computer online and we were sending information back and forth and all of a sudden poof the lights went out, our computers are down, we can't do anything."
This is the third time this year that the shutdown of that same AES plant caused power outages on Oahu. It just re-started Thursday morning at 8 a.m. from Wednesday's shutdown, only to go down less than three and a half hours later.