Power back on after blackout

LIHUE — Power was restored Monday night after a blackout affected approximately 22,000 households and businesses across Kauai.

Power was restored by 9:41 p.m., Kauai Island Utility Cooperative spokesman Jim Kelly said.

About two-thirds of the island’s customers were affected by the blackout that lasted just under four hours, but no more than 8,000 households were affected at the same time.

The cause of the blackout was due to a fuel delivery problem caused by a control valve issue at the Port Allen power-generating facility, Kelly said, adding that the parts that caused the problem have been replaced.

Under normal circumstances, the outage might have been avoided, but it happened when KIUC’s main power generating station in Kapaia was already down for scheduled maintenance. The incident occurred during peak-use time around 5:45 p.m. KIUC contacted its largest customers — hotels — and asked them to take additional steps to conserve energy.

“We have a very good relationship with the largest hotels on this island and they normally try to do what they can to help,” Kelly said. “They understand that it’s in everyone’s best interest if we all work together so that we don’t have a total, islandwide blackout.”

KIUC also posted a message to its Facebook page asking customers to shut off unnecessary lights and appliances.

“The big customers are obviously the ones who can do the most in these kinds of situations, but every little bit helps,” Kelly said.

When that wasn’t enough, the utility began rolling blackouts in which electricity was turned off in different sections of the island for about a half an hour at a time in order to reduce demand while it worked to get the system operating. Rolling blackouts help make sure people are affected as minimally as possible.

“We’re on an island and we have to generate all of our own power,” Kelly said. “If something like this happens on the Mainland, in a split second you can bring in power from another state or another utility. We don’t have that ability here, so if we lose generation, we need to reduce the demand.”

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