VIDEO: Man Chains Himself to HELCO Offices Over BillsSeptember 24, 2013, 6:39 PM HST (Updated January 22, 2014, 10:54 AM)
A Big Island man claiming that he had been billed incorrectly by Hawaii Electric Light Co. took his objections to the utility’s front door.
According to a video posted on YouTube, Wade Kalili walked up the the HELCO office on Kilauea Avenue, set up a folding chair, sat down and proceeded to chain himself by the waist to one of the office’s front doors.
Wearing a green T-shirt with “HELCO Prisoner 96720” printed on it, Kalili spent the next half hour discussing the matter with HELCO officials, two police officers and numerous HELCO customers entering and leaving the office — many with bemused looks.
During the incident, police used a bolt cutter to cut the chain and told Kalili that the area was private property and he would be arrested if he did not leave.
The incident ended after 35 minutes with Kalili gathering his belongings and heading for a meeting with a HELCO official at a mutually agreed location, Onekehakeha Beach Park.
During the discussion, which occurred on the morning of Sept. 5, Kalili claimed that he had been forced to sell his wife’s jewelry, tools and a trailer to pay the HELCO bills.
At one point he said that one month’s electricity bill was $789, and at another that his bill at one time had accumulated to more than $6,000.
He also said that HELCO cut off his electricity while he was attending his father’s funeral.
He told a police officer that he needs to have electricity for treatment for sleep apnea.
Kalili made numerous references to his belief that the meter on his house was to blame for the high charges, and that when HELCO exchanged it for another he tried to have officers accompanying the HELCO worker preserve it for evidence.
On the video, Kalili said after his power was cut off, he ran an extension cord next door to his son’s home. He claimed that the bill for the combined usage was lower than his bill alone.
When contacted by Big Island Now, one HELCO representative said that the company had been working for several months with Kalili on the issue, including discussions of “safety issues” regarding the use of power tools.
HELCO spokeswoman Rhea Lee later said that she could not discuss the incident in detail because of privacy issues.
“We cannot comment on specific customer matters,” she said.
Lee did say that the utility believes that Kalili was correctly billed for electrical usage.
Kalili said during the video that a HELCO official previously told him the problem might be that he was cooking or washing too much. “But I have a gas range … and a gas water heater,” he said.
Kalili expressed his frustration numerous times during the video.
“You know, this might not be the right way, but it’s the only way,” he said, adding at another point that “my family’s embarrassed, I’m embarrassed, but it’s the only way.”
Kalili did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.