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Senate Responds to Power Outage

January 4, 2009

More than a week after the lights went out across Oahu unanswered questions are prompting a deeper investigation.

State lawmakers will hold a special briefing to find out exactly what caused the blackout why it took so long to restore power and what can be done in the future.

Friday, December 26th, the night Oahu went dark. While it's still not confirmed it's believed lightning tripped four major transmission lines, knocking out power to 295,000 customers.

It's the second time in two years an island wide outage has occurred.

"I want to make it clear, that this is not about pointing our fingers or playing the blame game. The fact of the matter is though is that the business community and the residents here on oahu deserve some answers," said Senator Mike Gabbard.

It took as long as 36 hours to restore power to some residents. Senator Mike Gabbard says the slow response time is not just an inconvenience.

"These outages do far more than simply leave our residents sitting at home in the dark. The economic repercussions are huge," he said.

Gabbard along with Senator Roz Baker will hold a special briefing to examine all elements of the blackout.

Hawaiian Electric is working with the lawmakers and is expected to release its preliminary findings sometime this week.

"It is not a simple thing. Believe me, to examine an electrical system that's very complicated, high tech and determine what happened in the middle of a lightning storm in the dark at a time when there's a lot of demand on the system," Gabbard said.

Hawaii Kai was one of the last neighborhoods to have power restored. Bubbies lost about $6,000 that night from melted ice cream to damaged equipment.

It's operator says he's more worried about the future.

"My concern is, not the loss of power just this one time but what's going to happen when we have a significant issue, like when a hurricane comes through? Is it going to be days, weeks, or months before power is restored," Gabbard said.

Hawaiian Electric is building a new power plant at Campbell Industrial Park that will run on biodiesel. The unit coming in this summer would restore service more quickly if and when there is another outage.

That's sure to be a relief the next time families are left in the dark.

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