HECO preps outage data


POSTED: Monday, January 05, 2009

Hawaiian Electric Co. expects to have a preliminary report this week on the cause of the Dec. 26 islandwide power failure that will likely reaffirm its initial belief that the blackout started because of a lightning storm.



;[Preview]  State Senators Probe Poweroutage Cause

  The chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Environment announced today he'll hold a hearing later this month to look into the poweroutage. 

Watch  ]


  HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg said HECO will meet with the state Public Utilities Commission within the next week to discuss its investigation into the blackout that left most of Oahu dark for about 12 hours.


“;The overall indication was that it was lightning,”; Rosegg said yesterday. “;We're trying to determine what the lightning did. ... That's what we hope to lay out this coming week. It's not a simple thing to examine an electrical system that's very complicated.”;

Oahu residents will also have their opportunity to question HECO officials in a public meeting in front of the state Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment at 2 p.m. Jan. 14 in Conference Room 229 at the state Capitol. Officials from the PUC and the state's consumer advocate are also expected to attend the meeting.

Committee Chairman Sen. Mike Gabbard said he has received several calls from small businesses negatively affected by the power failure during a time when they are already suffering from an economic crisis.

“;This is not about pointing our fingers or playing the blame game,”; said Gabbard (D, Kalaeloa-Makakilo) at a news conference yesterday. “;The fact of the matter is, the business community and residents deserve some answers.”;

According to HECO policy, which is set by the PUC, the company is not required to reimburse customers for outages that are out of its control.

“;As long as they have (the policy in place), HECO is going to continue to deny their responsibilities,”; said Win Schoneman, the franchise owner of Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream and Desserts in Hawaii Kai, which lost an estimated $6,000 to $8,000 because of the power failure.

Chris Colgate, chairman of Hawaii Restaurant Association, said he is more interested in HECO's plans to ensure similar outages do not occur in the future.

“;The system has to be evaluated,”; said Colgate, who is also Oahu regional manager of Hula Grill in Waikiki. “;The goal is to not let it happen again.”;

Gabbard declined to give an opinion on HECO's policy but said changing it is an option.