Lack of Wind Power, Power Plant Repairs Leaves Hawaiians in the Dark

Published April 5, 2016

Residents on Hawaii Island suffered blackouts in late February due to a number of electric power generating units being taken offline due to repairs simultaneous with wind power generation being zero.

Despite a prime location with wind speeds rated as superb by the Department of Energy’s renewable energy laboratory, the Hawi wind farm on Hawaii Island, like the Kamaoa wind farm before it, has been taken off line numerous times, plagued by wind speeds that were too high for sustained periods threatening to damage its turbines. The Kamaoa wind farm was closed in 2006 for the same reason. Constant need of repairs due to high wind speeds made it too expensive to keep operating for the amount of power it could be counted upon to reliably produce. The turbines at Kamaoa were abandoned, rusted and eventually fell.

With no wind power, and three generating units taken off line for repairs, Hawaii Electric Light requested its Hawai’i Island customers to conserve electricity on dates in late February. In particular, Hawaii Electric suggested residents turn off or lessening use of air conditioners, delaying hot showers and dishwashing activities, delaying oven and dryer use, and minimizing cooking until later in the evening.

“We understand the evening hours are an especially inconvenient time to cut back on electricity. We appreciate everyone’s understanding and cooperation,” said Rhea Lee-Moku, Hawai’i Electric Light spokeswoman.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., ([email protected]) is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.