Power plant woes prompt HECO conservation request

Hawaii News Now - September 17, 2014
Rick Daysog

KALAELOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Continued problems at the state's largest independent power producer are prompting calls by Hawaiian Electric Co. for more energy conservation over the next several days.

Kalaeloa Partner's 208-MW plant in Campbell Industrial Park remained idle for the second straight day after a hole was discovered in one of its two boilers. The other boiler went offline due to problems in the transmission system connecting it to Oahu's grid.

"The Kalaeloa Partners plant, which is owned by an independent service company, is out of service right now. They've had unexpected problems," said HECO spokesman Darren Pai.

The hole will likely be fixed over the next two or three days. But the transmission line problem could take weeks since parts need to shipped from the mainland.

We're told that the shortage has prompted HECO to ask the Navy, one of its largest customers, to fire up four of its smaller generators in Pearl Harbor. Those units can supply about 7 megawatts of electricity, or enough to light several thousand homes.

Lawmakers say the shortage underscores the need to modernize Oahu's grid.

"Here we are in the midst of a transformation from oil-fired generators to clean, renewable energy," said state Sen. Mike Gabbard.

"You would think that 24-7 oil-fired generation is consistent and you can count on it."

The state Legislature will hold a briefing on HECO solar energy policy on Friday where HECO executives will likely face tough questions about the potential outages.