HAWAII ISLAND – The Hawaii Electric Light Company is experiencing narrow power generation reserves this week, and customers may have to conserve electricity use during peak hours.
The Big Island power utility expects to have enough power generation this week, while the 60 MW Hamakua Energy Partners power plant remains out of service. However, energy reserves remain tight.
HELCO reports the Hamakua Energy Partners experienced two unexpected trips on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, and is not expected to return to service until Friday.
“To meet customers’ electricity needs,” HELCO stated in a media release, “Hawai‘i Electric Light is running all its available firm generating units. It is working to return its Hill 6 steam plant early from its annual overhaul and plans to have it return to service by Tuesday evening. Hawai‘i Electric Light’s Puna steam unit, which was on standby status, was returned to active service as well. The unit was taken out of regular service in 2014 and now is used for this type of contingency. Renewable resources like wind and hydro are adding generation during the peak use hours and helping to increase generation reserves during this time.”
Last week, some HELCO customers experienced temporary power interruption lasting between 7 to 20 minutes.
“Our dedicated employees have been working long hours to meet the electricity needs of the community during this fluid situation,” said Rhea Lee-Moku, Hawai‘i Electric Light spokeswoman. “With the variable wind and hydro resources, we expect to have enough generation to meet the peak use period this week. However, we don’t have additional generation resources if there are unexpected technical problems on one of the larger units on our system. We want to assure the community that we’re doing everything we can to provide sufficient generation.”
HELCO says in the event we have a sudden loss of generation, the utility may need to ask customers to conserve electricity use during the evening peak hours between 6 to 8 p.m. HELCO says it will give as much notice as possible though conditions can change suddenly.
“We sincerely apologize for any concern this may cause and appreciate everyone’s cooperation and understanding,” Lee-Moku said.