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Thursday, October 14, 2004



Public heeds HECO’s
call to cut power use

Officials ask for continued kokua
as demand drops from record highs


Conservation by customers, backup power generation by the Navy and the repair of two broken generators got Hawaiian Electric Co. through yesterday without having to cut off power anywhere on Oahu.

Because of record electric consumption Tuesday and an unexpected 303-megawatt shortfall in generating capability, HECO called for customer conservation yesterday morning.

CONSERVATION STRATEGIES

Tips for energy conservation will be offered at two events:

HECO Live Energy Lite Celebration, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Ala Moana Center's CenterStage. Energy-saving information for homeowners, plus entertainment, games, prizes and giveaways. For more information, contact Peter Rosegg at 543-7780, or visit www.heco.com and click on "What's new."

Efficient Electro-Technology Exposition and Conference, Oct. 27-28 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. Electric technologies and energy-saving tools for businesses will be featured, with 60 exhibitors and more than 40 workshops. For more information, see energyexpo.heco.com or call 543-4790.

"We really appreciate the way Oahu customers, big and small, responded to the call for conservation," said Chuck Freedman, HECO vice president of corporate relations.

At 7 p.m. yesterday the peak demand for power was at 1,278 megawatts, down 49 megawatts from Tuesday's peak of 1,327 megawatts, Freedman said.

Also, repairs were made yesterday at HECO's Waiau power plant and the private Kalaeloa Partners plant that restored 140 megawatts of generating capacity, HECO spokesman Jose Dizon said.

"But we're still not out of the woods yet," Dizon said. "It's forecast to be hot again" today and tomorrow.

The Navy fired up some backup generators to feed 10 megawatts into the HECO system yesterday, Dizon said. The Navy was expected to continue supplying power through 9 p.m. yesterday and to remain on standby during the next few days.

Still under repair are two more generators at the 499-megawatt Waiau plant, for a combined loss of 140 megawatts. And the city's HPOWER waste-to-energy plant will be running at half capacity (23 megawatts) until tomorrow, when scheduled maintenance work is completed.

One megawatt is enough to power between 800 and 1,000 homes, Dizon said.

Electric usage Tuesday evening was an all-time high, breaking previous records set on Monday (1,319 megawatts), Sept. 8 (1,297 megawatts) and Aug. 17 (1,291 megawatts).

Peak use is generally from 5 to 9 p.m., when people get home from work and start cooking, using home appliances and taking showers, Dizon said.

Although a power crunch was averted, HECO gave these suggestions: Use less air conditioning and more fans; postpone showers until after 9 p.m.; and postpone using electric clothes washers, dryers and dishwashers until after 9 p.m.

The last time HECO called on customers to help it get through a time when power generation was almost equaled by consumption was Dec. 19, 2002, Dizon said.

At that time the utility had 281,000 customers; now it has 287,000, a 2 percent increase.

Though HECO averted having an outage this time, the incident "is kind of an awakening call for all of us" to look at future energy needs, said Maurice Kaya, energy program administrator for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

Good could come out of the situation, state Sierra Club Director Jeff Mikulina said, because "people need to see that the lights could go out."

HECO has a number of proposals that will help it face projected growth in electric demand, Dizon said, including:

» Charging more for electricity used from 5 to 9 p.m. to encourage use at other times.

» A pilot project that would allow the utility to remotely turn off residential hot water heaters when peak use is approaching.

» Allowing large businesses to use "combined heat and power" by installing electric generators and using the waste heat from it for other needs, such as heating swimming pools or laundry water.

» Building a 100-megawatt diesel-fired power plant in 2009, with the capability of burning biofuel.


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Overnight blackout
hits 4 UH dorms


Four University of Hawaii dormitories -- home to 650 students -- were expected to be without power overnight after a transformer started to leak, forcing crews to turn off electricity to the buildings.

UH spokesman Jim Manke said repairs on the transformer were expected to begin today.

The outage affected four buildings in the Hale Wainani complex, including two three-story walk-ups and two 15-story high-rises.

Manke said students in the complex will get free meals until the power comes back on, because many of them cook their own meals. He also said housing officials were providing areas for the students to study or sleep overnight.

Students who wanted to stay in their rooms without power were given portable lighting devices, he said.

The power outage was unrelated to Hawaiian Electric Co.'s warning yesterday that blackouts on Oahu were possible because of increased energy demand.


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Mugginess will ease
but light winds persist


The hot, humid weather that has caused electricity use on Oahu to surge recently is expected to let up a little tonight, but light winds will likely persist through the weekend, a National Weather Service forecaster said.

Forecaster Tom Birchard said a moist air mass over much of the state coupled with light Kona winds are to blame for the muggy weather.

The system also caused a funnel cloud near California Avenue in Wahiawa yesterday afternoon, he said.

The funnel cloud, which witnesses reported seeing about 1:15 p.m. near Kamehameha Highway and California Avenue, came close to touching the ground but did not, Birchard said. No injuries or damage were reported.

Birchard said yesterday that the recent sticky weather was unbearable for many because it came along with light Kona winds, which "don't allow air to circulate around people's homes."

He said temperatures have been moderate, but the humidity has made it feel warmer.

Winds should increase to about 10 mph tomorrow night and keep steady through the weekend. Winds are expected to pick up next week, Birchard said.

"We should see a fairly nice weekend," Birchard said. "We may still be pretty warm, just not as muggy. ... The winds won't be all that strong, but it should be a bit of an improvement from what we have now."

Retailers say they have seen fan and air conditioner sales increase since the muggy weather set in, with Wal-Mart in Mililani selling as many as 100 fans a day this week.

Wal-Mart sales associate Natalie Megnani said window air-conditioning units are selling well, too.

"They do sell pretty fast," she said, adding that units range from $94 to $156.

Customers are also scooping up the units at Home Depot in Iwilei, said electrical supervisor Eric Toyama. He said the store sold out of floor fans in mid-August.

"The minute it's really, really hot," Toyama said, "people come flocking into the store and ask, 'Do you guys have fans or air conditioners?'"

Birchard said the warm weather is not necessarily unusual for mid-October, nearly a month into autumn.

"For this time of the year, we're sort of transitioning between our summer and winter weather patterns," he said.

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