East Hawaii News

Hawai’i Electric: More Evening Power Interruptions Not Anticipated

February 21, 2016, 5:11 PM HST
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power line PIXABAYHawai’i Electric Light says evening power interruptions are not anticipated on Sunday.

Rotating 20 to 30 minute power outages took place Saturday evening, affecting over 26,000 customers across the Big Island as result of a shortage of power generation when unanticipated problems occurred at several generators on the island.

Hawai’i Electric officials said crews worked to return service to a combustion turbine at the Kanoelehua facility, CT1. The work was completed three days before it was planned to be returned from a scheduled overhaul.

Issues at the Keahole CT4 have also been repaired, and that generator was returned to service Sunday afternoon.

Work is currently underway on the Puna steam generator to bring it online.

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Hawai’i Electric says Saturday’s events were “unusual” and were a result of the shut down of a combustion turbine unit at the Keahole plant, CT5, at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Problems were reported within its water system that is used to control exhaust emissions.

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Two hours later, company officials say fuel system problems caused another combustion turbine unit at Keahole, CT4, to shut down.

In addition, a steam turbine unit owned by an independent power producer, Hamakua Energy Partners, was already down for repairs since mid-morning Friday, and those repairs could not be made in time.

Hawai‘i Electric Light’s combustion turbine 1 was also on overhaul and its Puna Steam unit was on standby status and could not be started in time.

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Wind energy and hydroelectric resources were unavailable for the evening peak Saturday.

“We want all of our customers to know we are truly sorry for disruption caused by last evening’s power interruptions,” said Rhea Lee-Moku, company spokesperson. “Crews worked hard to repair generation units to get them back on-line, but we just weren’t able to make it in time. We apologize for not providing earlier notice, but we’d hoped to be able to close the gap and tried to get the word out, including using social media, as soon as possible.”

Evening peak is from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The highest demand is between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Current efforts are being placed in troubleshooting CT5 and making repairs. Hamakua Energy Partners should have repairs completed on its steam turbine in the next few days.

Hawai‘i Electric says its normal contingency plans allow for meeting customer needs even if the largest generating unit on the system goes out of service unexpectedly. On Saturday, however, two of the largest generators went out of service and there was insufficient time to start the Puna steam unit, which takes at least 12 hours to start supplying power to the grid.

The Puna unit was taken out of regular service in 2014 and now is used for this type of contingency.

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