POSTED: Wednesday, April 01, 2009

HECO cleared in islandwide outage

Experts who analyzed the Dec. 26 islandwide blackout caused by lightning said Hawaiian Electric Co. could not have been expected to prevent the outage from happening or spreading to all of Oahu under the circumstances.

But two consulting companies recommended that HECO re-evaluate its procedures for dealing with a sudden drop in available power. Decisions to protect the generating system, which led the utility to shut down the whole grid within minutes of the lightning strikes, should be balanced with “;the potential to reduce the frequency of islandwide outages,”; the consultants said in a report submitted yesterday to the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission.

The reports from POWER Engineers of Hailey, Idaho, and Electric Power Research Institute Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif., will be reviewed by the PUC and the state Division of Consumer Advocacy, both of which are conducting their own reviews of the blackout.

Residents and businesses were without power for several hours after HECO responded to damage done by the rare lightning strikes, which caused five separate short circuits in transmission lines between the Kahe and Waiau power plants. The utility's “;restoration efforts were prudent,”; the consultants found.

The consultants recommended:

» Continuing to upgrade the automatic generator control systems at the Kahe and Waiau plants.

» Inspecting the voltage control device in the Kahe 2 generator.

» Analyzing the circumstances that made the steam turbine of independent power-producing company AES Hawaii trip out on the storm night.

» Examining structures on the Kahe-Waiau line and deciding what steps could mitigate the potential for lightning-caused short circuits.

Copies of the consultants' reports will be posted on the Web page http://www.heco.com and made available at the Hawaii State Library and HECO's Richards Street and Ward Avenue offices.

2 indicted in H-1 pickup shooting

An Oahu grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging two teenagers with last summer's shooting of a pickup truck full of teenage girls on the H-1 freeway.

The indictment charges Shaw Mohammad Awber, 18, with attempted first-degree murder, three counts of attempted second-degree murder, using a firearm to commit a crime and carrying a firearm without a permit.

His bail is $1 million. He is already in custody, unable to post $100,000 each for two assault cases.

Awber was 17 at the time of the shooting. A state Family Court judge waived jurisdiction over him last November, allowing prosecutors to charge him as an adult.

The indictment also charges Aubrey Huerbana, 18, with first-degree criminal property damage. The state says he fired shots from a BB gun at the pickup truck, damaging the truck's tailgate.

None of the nine girls in the truck or the male driver was injured in the June 29 shooting. However, 10 rounds hit the truck.

Warrant sweep nets 31 in Waipahu

The Sheriffs Division conducted a warrant sweep Monday night in Waipahu, yielding 31 arrests, mostly for outstanding traffic warrants.

The deputy sheriffs served 51 warrants from Village Park to Waipio Gentry. All were for traffic warrants, except for a grand jury warrant for $75,000 in a sex assault case, said Louise Kim McCoy, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety.

The 31 were booked and processed by the Sheriffs Division. Nine of the 31, who were unable to post bail, were taken to the main police station at 2:37 a.m. yesterday and booked.