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Lawmakers Seek Answers from Hawaiian Electric on Blackout

January , 2009

By Roger Mari

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's been just over a week since an island wide blackout left businesses and residents without power for more than day in some parts of Oahu.

Many are still in the dark as to what caused the outage, and why it took so long to have power restored.

Lawmakers are hoping to get answers from Hawaiian Electric officials.

The Senate Committee on Energy and the Environment announced today, it will have an informational briefing on January 14. They want to discuss the cause of the outage, reasons for the delay in restoring power, and future preventative plans.

It was the second island-wide blackout in two years. Power outages not only leave people inconveniently in the dark, they can have a negative impact on local businesses. The informational briefing will call upon Hawaiian Electric to explain the cause of the outage.

"I want it to be clear that this is not about playing the blame game or pointing our fingers. The fact of the matter is though that the business community as well as the residents here on Oahu deserves some answers," said Mike Gabbard, Committee on Energy and the Environment Chair.

HECO crews continue to investigate the power outage and believe a lightning storm is the likely cause. They hope to share preliminary findings by the end of the week.

"We don't want to know that it was just lightning, but how did that lightning interact with our equipment what did it do and what can we do to prevent it from happening again in the future," said Peter Rosegg of Hawaiian Electric Company.

Hawaii Kai was one of the last areas to have power restored, but it was too late for Win Schoneman to save $4000 worth of ice cream.

"What's going to happen when we have a significant issue, a hurricane comes through, is it going to be days, weeks, or months until power is restored," said Schoneman.

For Hawaiian Electric customers who feel they should be compensated for lost food from spoilage or damaged equipment, HECO is giving 30 days to file a claim. Each claim will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The Claim number is 543-4624.

  Mike Gabbard - State Senate| P.O. Box 75480 Kapolei, Hawaii 96707
Phone: (808) 682-0676 | Fax:(808) 682-2591 | E-mail: mike@mikegabbard.com