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Public Hearing Set to Discuss Power Outage

January 4, 2009

December 26th is still fresh on the minds of many across Oahu. The blackout didn't just leave thousands in the dark...it left business and restaurant owners in the red.

"All in all it probably cost me six-eight thousand dollars in losses," says Win Schoneman, Bubbies Franchise Owner.

"The economic repercussions are huge," says Senator Mike Gabbard, Energy Committee Chair.
Senator Mike Gabbard is calling for an informational briefing on the 14th to find out what many are still asking...what went wrong.

"We'll also be focusing on the reasons for the delay in restoring the power and possible solutions," says Gabbard. "I want to make it clear this is not about pointing fingers or playing blame game the fact of the mater is though that the business community and residents here on oahu deserve some answers."

Hawaiian Electric Company says those answers are coming.
"We're talking to eye wittnesses, to lightning experts in Hawaii and on the mainland, inspecting equipment, we are analyzing the logs from the time of the incident," says Peter Rosegg, Hawaiian Electric Company.

But what caused the outage may not be what many want to hear.

"Now our attention turns forcefully to what happed and I think the overwhelming indication is that is was lightning," says Rosegg.

If that's the case - rules state HECO may not be held liable.

"It's gonna require some type of pressure to require the utlity to chage its way of doing business," says Schoneman. "I have to carry insurance, why shouldn't they."

Sen. Gabbard says the issue could be taken up by the legislature to change the rules. HECO says they're open to suggestions.

"That's a decision that ultimately will be made by our regulators, the PUC, with the input of the Consumer Advocate," says Rosegg.

"And that is the purpose of the informational briefing, we'll put all the cards on the table we'll look at everything," says Sen. Gabbard.

The informational briefing will start at 2 p.m.on January 14th at the state capitol conference room 229.

HECO officials and others will make presentations. Following that, there will be a question and answer session, where the public can voice their concerns.

HECO expects to have a preliminary report on the island-wide outage later in the week.
For more information call Senator Gabbard's office: 586-6830

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