LIHUE — An islandwide power outage that struck early Monday afternoon affected all 25,800 Kauai Island Utility Cooperative members.
KIUC said a trip at its Kapaia Power Station at 12:04 p.m. led to the power outage that was fully restored 90 minutes later.
Power continued to be supplied to the grid for approximately nine minutes following the trip, in large part due to KIUC’s battery storage facilities. The cause of the island wide outage, which occurred at 12:13 p.m, is under investigation.
Additional units at KIUC’s Port Allen Generating Station were immediately started, and power restoration began at 12:42 p.m. All members were restored by 1:36 p.m.
“Fortunately, KIUC has enough generating capacity in Port Allen to support the grid even if Kapaia isn’t available,” said Brad Rockwell, KIUC’s power supply manager.
Faith Campbell, spokeswoman for Wilcox Hospital, said the outage didn’t have an impact on operations, because they have three emergency generators.
“The medical center automatically switches over to generator power during a power outage,” she said. “This is part of our emergency operations protocol, which is designed to maintain the health and safety of our patients and ensure they continue to receive the care that the need during emergency situations.”
Kauai schools remained open until power was restored, said Bill Arakaki, Kauai Complex Area Superintendent.
“Food preparation was not impacted by the outage. Schools were able to feed students and staff lunches. Alternate lessons and activities were conducted in classes due to not being able to use and or access computers, electronics and internet connections,” he said.
School restroom facilities were in operation during the outage and students were released at their normal bell schedule, Arakaki said.
All of the state’s airports have backup generator systems in order to respond to situations such as power outages, said Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesperson Tim Sakahara.
“The power system at the Lihue Airport came on instantly as it is designed to do during a power outage. There was no impact to airport operations as a result of today,” Sakahara said.
The generators ensure there’s very little impact to the traveling community, he said.
At the Pacific Military Range Facility, all command mission critical capabilities were operational during the outage because they run on a separate source of power.
“Our training, readiness and support capabilities were unaffected by the power outage,” said PMRF spokeswoman Sara Sexton.
Over at the Paradise 76 gas station in Lihue, manager Beverly Rapozo had blocked off the pumps with orange traffic cones, but she was optimistic the power outage wouldn’t last long.
“It happened several times before and I think normally it will probably be about a half an hour,” she said.
The station was completely inoperable due to the outage, she said.
“Everything’s down. My computers are down, my passport, my passport is where I do all of my gas and my beverages and all my stock in there, so everything’s down, everything is closed,” she said.
Lunch was in full swing at the Kukui Grove Center when an islandwide power outage struck.
“We can still serve up some of the offerings,” said Elena Camat, an associate with Oki’s Plate Lunch and Omiyage. “Our grill is gas and we can warm up the plate lunches on that. The register is electric, but we can ring up the receipts when the power comes back on.”
Sone’s Deli was in the same boat, its crew continuing to serve up lunches to diners who utilized the ambient lighting of the small eatery to enjoy their meals.
“We’re still open,” said Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, Kukui Grove spokeswoman. “Most of the stores are open. Some of the bigger stores follow their respective crisis manuals and are closed for the duration of the outage. I have a planning meeting, but that’s going on as scheduled. We’re just using whatever light there is.”
Other stores opted to close their doors during the outage that started shortly after noon and popped back online around 1:20 p.m.
Mark Bonilla, manager of Jamba Juice, had his employees locked inside the store and he led them on a Jamba version of the electric slide.
“I don’t know about having a sign explaining why we’re closed,” he said. “I need to check with the corporate office because that’s one of the thing not covered in the crisis manual.”
The Regis salon closed because of the power outage due to the majority of their professional tools needing electricity to operate, and customers took advantage of having their children discover the recently-dedicated Keiki Korner while they waited in the dark for the power to come back on.
At Pizza Hut, lunch is usually one of their busiest times because customers enjoy their buffet, but the restaurant was closed due to the power outage so shift manager Rose Marie Medina and a co-worker were outside enjoying the sun.
“We lose a lot of business because there’s no electricity. It might be good for us, we get to rest for a little while, but otherwise we will not have any customers. The business cannot make money because the power is out,” she said.
In a situation like this, it’s important to be patient, she said.
“Right now, the buffet is usually our peak time and buffet’s usually where we generate the most income because everyone loves the buffet with all of the different pizzas we have, but because of the power outage that’s a big drop in our revenue for today,” said assistant manager Chanelle Marie Hashimoto.
The last islandwide outage was Sept. 10, 2017, said Beth Tokioka, KIUC spokeswoman.
“There were two blackouts that day. One at 10:25 a.m. which lasted for about 80 minutes due to a trip at the Kapaia Power Plant. The second occurred at 12:45 p.m., which lasted for 40 minutes, due to loss of power from the Green Energy biomass plant, which resulted in a trip at the Port Allen Generating Station, she said.
So, why the “trip” at the Kapaia station? What is causing these outages and why aren’t they fixed? Why isn’t someone being fired for such incompetence? Why doesn’t TGI ask such basic questions?
I believe that the operations management group will conduct a thorough review of SCADA and OMS records to determine mine cause and remedial measures to be taken. Power system protection is generally very sensitive to fault protection. To assume and assign blame for incompetence seems to be premature.