Team play avoided big power outages

Since getting the lights turned on again after Hurricane Iniki eight years ago, Kaua’i has become accustomed to virtually uninterrupted electricity. But islanders almost got a taste of what a return of widespread power outages could be like when potential rolling brownouts were averted Thursday, thanks to businesses and residents coming through with flying colors in dealing with that unsavory prospect.

As the 5-to-9 p.m. peak usage period approached Thursday, Kaua’i Electric officials scrambling to fix broken power-generating units at Port Allen put out a call for voluntary electricity cutbacks. The response was an admirable example of community team play. Hotels turned off all but essential safety lighting, at least one restaurant shut off its air conditioning, and major power users such as Lihu’e Airport switched to backup generators or took other conservation measures. As a result, outages were averted and the daily routines of islanders went on as usual.

Kaua’i Electric officials issued a sigh of relief. And if they haven’t already, everyone who pitched in can give themselves a pat on the back.

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