Posted at 11:33 a.m., Monday, October 16, 2006
Big Isle power cost at $3M to $5M
By Kevin Dayton
Advertiser Staff Writer
Lee said about half of that damage actually came this morning when there was a fire in a high tech "shock absorber" at Helco's Lalamilo wind farm in Kohala that damaged the equipment.
Lee said Helco workers were able to bring the fire under control, but it did substantial damage. The shock absorber was installed in March to smooth out the surges and ebbs in power generated from the windmills at the facility. It is the first of its kind anywhere, Lee said.
Rhea Nakayama, administration manager for Helco, said service had been restored to all but two of the utility's customers this morning, and those customers opted to wait to have the power turned back on so that repairs or inspections can be completed.
Nakayama said the Big Island power failures were mostly triggered by violent shaking of power lines that triggered protective devices designed to isolate sections of line where there are problems.
The protective devices then opened breakers to divert electricity away from those lines. To restart power to those segments of the system, crews had to go to the lines to manually replace fuses and check the lines, she said.
Lee said the utility's 28-megawatt Hill Turbine in Hilo was also damaged in the earthquake when the unit tripped offline, causing steam to back up and damage the equipment.
Crews are working on repairs today, but the damage to the turbine could range from $50,000 to $150,000, Lee said.