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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 12:51 p.m., Friday, June 2, 2006

HECO asks O'ahu customers to conserve power today

Advertiser Staff

In an effort to dodge another round of forced power outages that yesterday left 37,000 Hawaiian Electric Co. customers without electricity for up to four hours, the utility today is asking its O'ahu customers to conserve electricity.

 "We have enough power generation available to meet expected demand," said HECO spokesman Jose Dizon in a news release. He added, "but we're projecting only 120 MW (megawatts) of reserves online this afternoon when we normally carry at least 180 MW. If we lose a large generating unit, we may experience outages."

Reserve generating capacity remains tight today due to hotter weather and the continued unavailability of generating units from an independent power producer, Kalaeloa Partners, Dizon said.

Suggested conservation steps for residential customers include:

  • Delay activities such as operating clothes washers and dryers and dishwashers until after 9 p.m.

  • Use fans instead of air conditioners, if possible. Turn off air conditioners, lights and other appliances when rooms are empty. Run air conditioning on low in one room and move cooler air by fans, which use less power.

  • Take shorter showers, which can save both energy and water, or delay showering until later in the evening.

  • Unplug cell phone and PDA chargers when they are not actually charging the devices. Power down unused computers, printers and monitors and unplug them from the wall or turn off their power strips.

    On Wednesday night, a generator owned and operated by Kalaeloa partners was taken off line for emergency maintenance. Yesterday, with four HECO generators already on scheduled maintenance, Kalaeloa's second generator tripped offline and two smaller HECO generators subsequently also tripped. This caused an imbalance between power demand and supply, creating instability on O'ahu's electric system.

    HECO turned off power to about 37,000 customers in various parts of the island at about 2:12 p.m. to stabilize the electric system and avoid more extensive outages. HECO was able to bring back two of its generators and power was restored to about 17,000 customers about 5 p.m. and to remaining customers by 6:09 p.m.