Tight supply of electricity on Hawaii Island drives need for conservation through April

Release Date: 3/25/2024

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HILO, March 25, 2024 – Hawaiian Electric is asking all Hawaii Island customers to reduce or shift their electricity use over the next month.

This is an unusual situation, driven mainly by the unavailability of several large generators that have experienced mechanical problems, are at reduced output, or are undergoing maintenance. The largest generator, an independent power producer that sells electricity to Hawaiian Electric, is offline with significant mechanical issues. The plant generates 60 megawatts or nearly one-third of the typical peak demand of 180 megawatts on the island.

Hawaiian Electric is using companywide resources and working with its independent power producers to return units to full service as soon as possible. At least through the middle of April, when one of the company’s larger generators is scheduled to return from an overhaul on the mainland, generation margin will be extremely tight, especially when wind, solar and hydroelectric output is lower than forecast.

Customers may see alerts asking them to conserve energy, especially on days when there isn’t much wind, which can generate up to 15% of the electricity on the grid. When the alerts are issued, customers are asked to take immediate action to minimize the use of electricity.

Even without an alert, customers – including hotels and large retailers – are urged to reduce their electricity use as much as possible, especially between 5 and 9 p.m. weekdays. Suggestions include turning off air conditioners and unneeded lighting, shutting off water heaters and pumps, and shifting activities like cooking, showering, laundry, and dishwashing. Shifting large appliance use to the daytime, when solar is abundant, is also recommended.

Without enough supply to meet electricity demand, the company may initiate rolling outages of up to an hour around the island. The impacted areas and the timing will be based on the amount of demand that needs to be reduced. Hawaiian Electric will post alerts on its X (formerly Twitter) @HIElectricLight and Facebook account. Customers also are encouraged to subscribe to Hawaii County Civil Defense’s emergency notification system, Everbridge, to receive alerts.

Customers may experience delays or busy signals on the Trouble Line (808) 969-6666 due to high call volume. Other options are calling Customer Care (808) 969-6999 or direct messaging on X or Facebook. For more information, visit hawaiianelectric.com/HawaiiIslandUpdate.