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HECO restores power to last 600 Chinatown customers

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VIDEO COURTESY HECO
Hawaiian Electric Co. holds a press conference to discuss the power outage and ongoing work to restore power to customers in areas of Chinatown and downtown Honolulu.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Rudy Tamayo, vice president of Energy Delivery at HECO, discusses the outage during a news conference at HECO’s Ward station with burnt underground cables recovered from Chinatown sitting behind him.
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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

Rudy Tamayo, vice president of Energy Delivery at HECO, discusses the outage during a news conference at HECO’s Ward station with burnt underground cables recovered from Chinatown sitting behind him.

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The burnt underground cables recovered from Chinatown are on display during a news conference at HECO’s Ward Avenue station.
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JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

The burnt underground cables recovered from Chinatown are on display during a news conference at HECO’s Ward Avenue station.

CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Hawaiian Electric this morning restored power to 2,400 customers in Chinatown and parts of downtown and Nuuanu after an arc flash Wednesday night prompted power to be shutoff for 3,000 customers. Pictured is Fete co-owner and chef Robynne Maii opening the door, Wednesday, to create some airflow in the closed restaurant.
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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

Hawaiian Electric this morning restored power to 2,400 customers in Chinatown and parts of downtown and Nuuanu after an arc flash Wednesday night prompted power to be shutoff for 3,000 customers. Pictured is Fete co-owner and chef Robynne Maii opening the door, Wednesday, to create some airflow in the closed restaurant.

JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Rudy Tamayo, vice president of Energy Delivery at HECO, discusses the outage during a news conference at HECO’s Ward station with burnt underground cables recovered from Chinatown sitting behind him.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                The burnt underground cables recovered from Chinatown are on display during a news conference at HECO’s Ward Avenue station.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Hawaiian Electric this morning restored power to 2,400 customers in Chinatown and parts of downtown and Nuuanu after an arc flash Wednesday night prompted power to be shutoff for 3,000 customers. Pictured is Fete co-owner and chef Robynne Maii opening the door, Wednesday, to create some airflow in the closed restaurant.

UPDATE: 4 p.m.

Hawaiian Electric said power has been restored to the remaining 600 customers in Chinatown at around 3:45 this afternoon.

Crews have now completed all the major repairs needed to restore power to areas in Chinatown and downtown Honolulu that were impacted by Monday’s outage.

Any customers still without power should contact Hawaiian Electric’s trouble line at 1-855-304-1212.

2 p.m.

With stacks of burnt underground power cables recovered from Chinatown behind them, Hawaiian Electric Co. employees said they hope that power will be restored today to the remaining 600 customers still in the dark in Chinatown.

During an afternoon press conference at the HECO Ward Avenue baseyard, HECO employees did not provide a specific timeline for restoring service to affected customers but said “good progress” was being made.

“This is a very unusual situation to have an outage of this duration outside of a storm situation — we know it is not okay,” HECO spokesperson Jim Kelly said during the press conference. “We want you to know that we are doing everything that we can to fix it.”

Affected customers are urged to file a damage or loss claim related to the outage within 30 days.

FILE A DAMAGE OR LOSS CLAIM

Oahu customers can file claims by mail, email or telephone. The claim must include the affected customer’s name, contact information and Hawaiian Electric account number. The website also requests that customers include the date and time of the power outage. “List the items that were damaged, including the year purchased and model number. If you have estimates or receipts for repairs or replacement costs, keep them until requested by our adjuster. Keep damaged items until your claim has been resolved,” the company says.

>> Email: Complete the Oahu Claim for Damage or Loss form (808ne.ws/3TUZXYX) and email it to claims@hawaiianelectric.com.

>> Mail: Mail the claim form or a letter with the necessary information to Hawaiian Electric Claims Department, P.O. Box 2750, Hono­lulu, HI 96840-0001.

>> Call: The Oahu Claims Department at 808-543-4624 and a representative will document the information.

9 a.m.

Power was restored to 2,400 customers in Chinatown, parts of downtown Honolulu and Nuuanu shortly after 8 a.m. today, according to Hawaiian Electric.

However, 600 customers in Chinatown remain without power since Monday night.

HECO in a 9 a.m. update said repair crews resumed work this morning to complete power restoration “as soon as possible.”

EARLIER COVERAGE

Hawaiian Electric Co. officials said this morning that they were forced to shut off power to about 3,000 customers in Chinatown and parts of downtown and Nuuanu Wednesday night after an “arc flash inside a manhole last night set back repair efforts in Chinatown.”

The company said that four company technicians were inside the manhole at the time but were not hurt.

“Repairs are continuing this morning and it is possible some customers will have their power restored by mid-morning,” the company’s update said.

RELATED STORY: Extended power outage costly for many Chinatown businesses

Power was shut off about 10:30 p.m. after the incident as crews were trying to restore service to the remaining 600 Chinatown customers who have been without power since Monday night. About 2,400 customers had their power restored Tuesday night.

“We know how frustrating this is and we know customers have run out of patience but the safety of our workers is the priority and we’re not going to send anyone into a situation where they could get hurt,” Jim Alberts, senior vice president and chief of operations of Hawaiian Electric, said in this morning’s update.

“Last night was a setback but because our workers carefully planned out their work and took precautions no one got hurt,” he said. “We’re putting every available resource on the job but making repairs in a dark, cramped space underground with energized equipment is one of the most hazardous jobs in our company and we have to plan out the work so we can do it safely.”

Company officials said that an arc flash occurs when high-voltage electricity is discharged between two conductors. They said the flash was smothered by a special heat-resistant blanket the crews used to cover cables and equipment while they work in the restricted space underground.

The arc flash may have occurred in a splice connecting two high-voltage cables, they said.

Honolulu police say that motorists in the area should treat all intersections with no power as four-way stops.

They include: South Vineyard Boulevard and Pali Highway; Nuuanu Avenue and School Street; Pali Highway and School Stre


This is a breaking news story and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.


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