Another blackouts warning from HECO; lawmakers seek investigation

Hawaiian Electric again is urging Hawaii Island customers to conserve energy this evening to avoid power outages.

Although the energy provider did not initiate 30-minute rolling blackouts Tuesday night or this morning, HECO warned again this afternoon that it might need to do so if demand for power outstrips supply.


That supply has been drastically reduced because several vital generators are offline for various reasons, and Hamakua Energy, the island’s largest independent power producer, also is not producing power. Between them, the generators and Hamakua Energy have a total energy capacity of about 120 megawatts.

Thanks to abundant wind energy, HECO has only had to initiate rolling outages once since March 25, when Hamakua Energy first went dark. Those outages, which took place Sunday evening, impacted 21,557 customers.

Customers are advised to reduce energy consumption, particularly during the hours of peak demand between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. HECO has said a lack of power will be a problem until the end of April, when one of the offline generators will return to service after an overhaul.

HECO has also advised customers who rely on electrically powered life-support equipment to arrange for backup power systems in the event of an unexpected outage. Spokeswoman Kristen Okinaka said via email that customers should consult with their doctor or pharmacist on how to handle such a situation and set up a contingency plan for backup generators.

Okinaka added the company has a life-support assistance program that offers billing assistance for customers who rely on such equipment. 537 customers are currently enrolled in that program.

Meanwhile, a trio of state senators sent a letter Tuesday to the state Public Utilities Commission requesting an investigation into HECO in light of last weekend’s outages: 13,000 customers on Oahu also lost power Sunday night, although for many those outages persisted into Monday morning.

“These outages have forced four East Oahu schools to close,” stated the letter, which was signed by Oahu Sens. Glenn Wakai and Jarrett Keohokalole and East Maui, Molokai and Lanai Sen. Lynn DeCoite. “The Department of Health reported some 237,500 gallons of sewage were released into the ocean due to a lack of power at the East Honolulu Treatment Plant.

“The lack of reliability due to insufficient energy generation, HECO’s aging equipment, unreliable oil-fired power generation, and immediate and long-term solutions should be investigated,” the letter went on.

Via Okinaka, HECO issued a brief statement today regarding the letter. “We understand our regulators’ concerns on behalf of customers, and we have been updating them on the situation. We’ll continue to update them on what we’re doing to reduce the likelihood of future outages as well as our efforts to proactively inform customers and continue asking for their help in conserving electricity until we get more generating units back online.”

Residents are advised to monitor HECO’s social media accounts on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) for outage updates, as well as Hawaii County Civil Defense’s emergency notification system on Everbridge.

Email Michael Brestovansky at

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