Tamura’s Market suffers massive loss of food during 9-day power outage in Kalaeloa
Tamura’s Market in Kalaeloa was mostly without electricity and closed for the past nine days following thunderstorms and rain June 25, with a manager saying he’s “well into the six figures of losses” in revenue and perishable foods.
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Tamura’s Market in Kalaeloa was mostly without electricity and closed for the past nine days following thunderstorms and rain
June 25, with a manager saying he’s “well into the six figures of losses” in revenue and perishable foods.
The store is in the Navy power grid district. Tamura’s Director of Operations Mike Mita said Wednesday that electricity had been restored as of about 1 p.m., but power was intermittent Tuesday and nonexistent for about a week before that, leaving him frustrated and uncertain as to when he should order more perishable foods and reopen.
“At this point, we just want to make sure the electricity lasts, because if we have all these perishable
deliveries come in and the power goes back out, we’re stuck,” he said.
The Tamura’s outage is
an extreme example of the power reliability problems tenants at the former Naval Air Station Barbers Point have had with an aged grid still overseen by the Navy with electricity supplied by Hawaiian Electric Co.
Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii crews have been working on the Kalaeloa outages since they occurred, according to the command’s Facebook page.
The Navy was successful at bringing some of its above-ground power lines that feed Iroquois Point and other housing and commercial areas back online over this past week but has had difficulties with one particular circuit that runs beneath the Kalaeloa Airport runway, said Denise Emsley, a spokeswoman for the engineering command.
The circuit feeds Coast Guard facilities, Navy Morale Welfare &Recreation beach cottages, miscellaneous commercial businesses east of Enterprise Avenue and a Navy Biosolids Composting Facility.
Electrical service for customers near Kalaeloa Airport, including Tamura’s, was restored at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Emsley said.
The areas that remain without commercial power include the Coast Guard
facilities, the beach cottages and the biosolids facility, which are operating under generator power, she said.
“We are moving as quickly and safely as possible to make all necessary repairs and restore power to our customers,” Capt. Marc
Delao, commanding officer of Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii, said in an email. “We know these power outages are causing a lot of frustration to both our military and civilian customers, and our utilities personnel are continuing to work long hours to successfully restore power to everyone.”
In 2017, a collaborative federal, state and private sector study noted that HECO was unwilling to take over the Navy power system due to concerns over its
Since the 1999 base
closure, “the Navy has not made any investments in
the electrical system,
making repairs only as needed, such that the current system does not meet industry standards,” the
Most tenants complained of multiple power outages each month that lasted between one and eight hours.
HECO estimated power system upgrades in Kalaeloa would cost $300 million to $400 million, while the study suggested alternative power production methods at a cost of between $200 million and $300 million.
The June 25 thunderstorm led to three lightning-related injuries, power outages and downed trees. Approximately 1,900 households in Makakilo experienced a loss of electricity.
Mita said that when the lack of power persisted at his 10,000-square-foot grocery, he lost “all of our perishable items … everything in our meat department,
everything in our poultry department, our dairy, chilled deli, all of our frozen foods.”
If he had known the outage would last so long, Mita said, he could have made
arrangements to transfer
the perishable items.
“Normally outages are from an hour to two hours, and the most that we’ve ever had a power outage here was maybe 12 hours — not nine days,” he said.
Mita did get a 40-foot refrigeration unit on site Wednesday afternoon. “We tried to save whatever we could in our frozen and chilled back rooms,” he said. But he still estimates he lost thousands of pounds of food.
The store’s 45 employees have been temporarily farmed out to other Tamura’s outlets, Mita said.
The engineering command noted its struggle
to restore power on its
Facebook page. Navy crews had to replace a transformer connecting the HECO grid
to the Navy grid.
Last Saturday, power was still out for some when several line faults occurred, causing fuses to blow and starting a small fire. Crews had to search beneath Kalaeloa’s airfield to find and fix multiple line faults.