Hawaiian Electric Co. says it has sent $50 gift cards and letters of apology to “a few thousand” customers who went without power following the March 4 winter storm complicated by an electrical workers strike.
More than 8,000 HECO customers, the majority of them in the Ewa plain, lost electricity for several days when utility poles and lines were downed by gusty winds and rain during a March 4 storm.
Later that day, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 went out on strike when negotiation stalled. The IBEW represents about 1,280 workers — roughly 54 percent of the company’s employees — at HECO on Oahu, at Maui Electric Co., and at Hawaii Electric Light Co. on the Big Island.
The union and management reached a tentative agreement March 7. Workers ratified the contract a few days later and it will be in effect through Oct. 31, 2013.
Darren Pai, HECO spokesman, said: “We don’t want to get into specifics, but we can say the gift cards and letters were sent to a few thousand customers.”
Pai said HECO used its records to determine who would get the letters and the gift cards based on how long the customer was without power.
“Also, customers will not be billed for any electricity usage during the outage, “ Pai added. “This is standard procedure. Customer bills are based on their use of electricity. So they are not billed for any electricity usage during any outage.”
Pai added: “Some of our customers experienced especially long outages under unique and unusual circumstances during the period starting Friday, March 4. In many cases, these outages were compounded by heavy traffic. We recognize how difficult this was for our customers. We told them we know the gift cards do not make up for the disruption, but they are a small thank you for their patience and understanding.”
Pai said the letter makes it clear that customers can still file claims for any losses they feel deserve compensation.
Customers can call HECO at 543-4624 to request a claim form. Information is also at heco.com; click on “Residential Services,” then the “Power Interruptions” link on the left.