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SENATORS CALL FOR AN INVESTIGATION INTO HAWAIIAN ELECTRIC RELIABILITY ISSUES

In light of the multiple power outages this weekend, Senator Glenn Wakai, Chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety and Intergovernmental and Military Affairs, Senator Jarrett Keohokalole, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection, and Senator Lynn DeCoite, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Economic Development, and Tourism sent a letter to the Public Utilities Commission expressing concern about recent power blackouts. The letter, in part, highlighted the Public Utilities Commission's investigatory powers under State law, and requested the Commission to conduct investigations:

 

"The PUC has the statutory responsibility to regulate Hawaiian Electric proactively in the public interest and can use its investigatory powers pursuant to Section 269-7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to ensure that electric utility services are delivered in a safe and reliable manner. The lack of reliability due to insufficient energy generation, HECO’s aging equipment, unreliable oil-fired power generation, and immediate and long term solutions should be investigated."

 

A copy of the letter's language is below.


 

April 16, 2024


Via Email

Honorable Chair and Members of the

Hawai’i Public Utilities Commission

Kekuanao’a Building, First Floor

465 South King Street

Honolulu, Hawai’i 96813


Re: Investigation into Hawaiian Electric Reliability Issues and Proposed Solutions


Dear Commissioners:


The recurring blackouts on Oahu and the Hawaii Island are distressful. These unplanned rolling outages and calls for conservation showcase Hawaiian Electric’s struggle to provide safe and reliable energy to customers. Even worse, HECO expects more blackouts in the months ahead, without any indication of when these energy reliability issues will be resolved.


On Sunday night, some 13,000 Oahu utility customers were without power for several hours and some continue to be without power. These outages have forced four East Oahu schools to close. The Department of Health reported some 237,500 gallons of sewage were released into the ocean due to a lack of power at the East Honolulu Treatment Plant. At the same time 21,500 customers on Hawaii Island experienced an outage, and HECO issued another alert to expect more.


The PUC has the statutory responsibility to regulate Hawaiian Electric proactively in the public interest and can use its investigatory powers pursuant to Section 269-7, Hawaii Revised Statutes, to ensure that electric utility services are delivered in a safe and reliable manner. The lack of reliability due to insufficient energy generation, HECO’s aging equipment, unreliable oil-fired power generation, and immediate and long term solutions should be investigated.


We trust the PUC will look into this matter to clearly understand the nature, duration, and resolution of these outages. Thank you for your prompt attention to this request.


Aloha,


Glenn Wakai

Senator


Lynn DeCoite

Senator


Jarrett Keohokalole

Senator


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