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'Avoidable' strike continues

By Star-Advertiser staff

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:31 p.m. HST, Mar 08, 2011


CORRECTION

»  Robbie Alm is executive vice president of Hawaiian Electric Co. An earlier photo caption referred to him as executive vice president for public relations.

 

Negotiators for Hawaiian Electric Co. and striking union workers held a marathon, closed-door session with a federal mediator yesterday with no word of progress in settling a strike that coincided with a widespread blackout.

HECO officials, including company President Richard Rosenblum, and representatives of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 began talks at 10 a.m. that lasted well into the night. There was no indication whether they planned to meet again today to end the walkout, which began Friday during a storm-related power failure.

Power was restored yesterday to all but an estimated 300 HECO customers scattered across Oahu, the utility said.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie put off a plan to open assistance centers on Oahu for residents without power. He said he directed state Civil Defense and other agencies to provide more targeted relief to Oahu residents still without electricity.

"We have been monitoring and assisting in this situation since it began on Friday afternoon, with our highest priority to ensure public health and safety," Abercrombie said in a statement. "I want to acknowledge the efforts of everyone who worked to restore power, but let me be clear, this situation was unacceptable and avoidable. It cannot happen again."

As of 3:30 a.m. yesterday, electric service was restored to more than 2,000 customers in the Ewa Beach area who had been mostly without power since Friday. Service to approximately 950 customers in the Kaneohe-Kahaluu area also was restored, HECO said.

HECO management crews worked late last night, trying to restore power to 250 to 300 customers in small power failures around Oahu, said spokesman Peter Rosegg.

The crews restored power to about 200 customers during the day, but there remained outages on the North Shore and elsewhere.

Crews were to return this morning to repair downed power poles along Fort Weaver Road, and would have to close one Ewa-bound lane from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Rosegg said. The closure will continue tomorrow and Wednesday, when HECO hopes to finish.






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