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HECO restores power to 2,400 Chinatown customers; 600 still without service

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Hyun Kim, owner of O Kim’s restaurant, waits inside her darkened establishment for a delivery as power remains down today in Chinatown.
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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

Hyun Kim, owner of O Kim’s restaurant, waits inside her darkened establishment for a delivery as power remains down today in Chinatown.

GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                At the corner of Bethel and King streets, a Hawaiian Electric crew works to restore power to the downtown and Chinatown area on Tuesday.
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GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM

At the corner of Bethel and King streets, a Hawaiian Electric crew works to restore power to the downtown and Chinatown area on Tuesday.

COURTESY FERN KANDA
                                Hawaiian Electric repair crew works on Alakea Street this morning amid a blackout affecting about 3,000 customers in Chinatown and areas of downtown Honolulu.
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COURTESY FERN KANDA

Hawaiian Electric repair crew works on Alakea Street this morning amid a blackout affecting about 3,000 customers in Chinatown and areas of downtown Honolulu.

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Hyun Kim, owner of O Kim’s restaurant, waits inside her darkened establishment for a delivery as power remains down today in Chinatown.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                At the corner of Bethel and King streets, a Hawaiian Electric crew works to restore power to the downtown and Chinatown area on Tuesday.
COURTESY FERN KANDA
                                Hawaiian Electric repair crew works on Alakea Street this morning amid a blackout affecting about 3,000 customers in Chinatown and areas of downtown Honolulu.

UPDATE: 9:55 p.m.

Hawaiian Electric Co. officials said they have restored power to about 2,400 of 3,000 customers who have been without power for about 24 hours.

Power was restored to the customers in the Chinatown area at about 9:10 p.m., the company said.

“Crews will continue to work through the night to complete repairs on underground power cables and other equipment damaged in a fire Monday night,” they said. “Approximately 600 customers remain out of service. Their estimated time of restoration is 6 p.m. Wednesday.”

A fire burned four underground circuits, comprised of a total of 12 underground high-voltage cables, between King and Bethel streets and King and Alakea streets, according to HECO.

Crews have removed and replaced damaged cables that serve the majority of the affected customers, officials said.

“Repair crews will continue to rotate in shifts so the restoration work can continue until the repairs are complete and service restored,” the update said.

2:30 p.m.

Hawaiian Electric crews plan to work overnight to repair damaged underground power cables and other equipment that resulted in a power outage affecting 3,000 customers in the Chinatown and downtown Honolulu areas.

HECO reports the estimated time of restoration is noon Wednesday.

Crews today determined the damage from the fire in a manhole was extensive, requiring “lengthy and complex repairs that need to be done in a restricted space below the street.”

The fire burned four underground circuits that make up a total of 12 underground high-voltage cables in the area between the intersection of King and Bethel streets along with King and Alakea streets.

>> PHOTOS: Businesses closed following power outage

“Those sections of the cables need to be pulled out and replaced because they have been damaged beyond repair. Repair crews will rotate in shifts so the restoration work can continue until the repairs are complete and service restored,” according to a statement from HECO.

12:35 p.m.

Hawaiian Electric officials said that about 3,000 customers in the Chinatown and downtown Honolulu areas remain without power “as crews continue to safely make repairs.”

In a social media post after noon, they said, “crews hope to start restoring power to some areas this afternoon.”

Power has been out in the area since before 9 p.m. Monday, the second major downtown Honolulu outage in a week.

Hawaiian Electric spokesman Darren Pai said the cause and origin of the fire are still under investigation.

Also, he said Hawaiian Electric has found “nothing conclusive” to connect the June 13 power outage with today’s outage.

“We’re investigating,” he said. “We’re not ruling it out, but it’s still very early at this stage. There’s nothing conclusive.”

Pai said Hawaiian Electric will be implementing both short-term and long-term measures to address power reliability in the downtown area.

In the short term, Hawaiian Electric will upgrade some equipment at the Iwilei substation to provide more redundancy for circuits serving downtown. That work is expected to be finished by the end of July.

In the long run, Hawaiian Electric plans to “accelerate the process” of upgrading and replacing aging underground cables that run under downtown streets, which is expected to take place over multiple years.

Meanwhile, the city’s Department of Transportation Services reminded the public that many intersections across downtown are out of service due to a power outage. Motorists and pedestrians should treat all intersections with affected traffic signals as all-way stops, officials said.

Honolulu Police Department officers are at major intersections to help direct traffic, they said. “Drivers should obey all the rules of the roadway and drive with patience and aloha,” DTS officials said.

TUESDAY 9:20 A.M.

Hawaiian Electric company officials said crews are working to restore electric service to about 3,000 customers in Chinatown and other areas of downtown Honolulu.

The latest downtown outage, which began before 9 p.m. Monday, is the second time in a week that electricity has been out in the downtown area.

HECO officials said today’s outage “resulted from a fire that damaged underground cables in several locations.”

“This outage does not include as much of downtown Honolulu as the outage that occurred on June 13 and most office buildings, including government buildings and courthouses, have power,” a news release this morning said.

Officials said crews hope to have power restored to most areas by early or mid-afternoon and the company will continue to issue updates on the progress of repairs.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

Hawaiian Electric said 2,800 customers were without power overnight in the downtown, Iwilei and Nuuanu areas. The utility initially announced the outage at 8:50 p.m. for 1,610 customers and then at 9:40 p.m. increased the number of customers affected.

Last Thursday, a power outage in downtown Honolulu affected 900 customers and left much of the area in the dark for about nine hours and disrupted traffic and businesses.

Hawaiian Electric did not provide any immediate update on when power would be restored tonight.

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