Thousands of People Living on Army Base Hawaii Urged to Reduce Electricity Use Due to Grid Outage

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Jim Alberts, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Hawaiian Electric, left, tours the Menoher substation in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Aug. 19, 2022, with Brig. Gen. Cain Baker, deputy commanding general for sustainment. (The American army)

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii — Thousands of soldiers and their family members living at Schofield Barracks in central Oahu are urged to drastically reduce their electricity use in the coming months as the military strives to repair an obsolete substation.

Last week, Army officials asked residents to avoid using several major appliances, such as clothes dryers, stoves and ovens during the hours of 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. They were also told asked to refrain from charging electric vehicles or using non-essential electrical appliances or lights during this time. period of time.

The Menoher electrical substation, which serves around 3,500 homes, a number of barracks and other buildings on Schofield, has been half-operating since June 10, when one of its two transformers failed, has announced Army Garrison Hawaii on its Facebook page on August 4.

The situation worsened as Hawaii entered its hottest August and September, when demand for air conditioning peaks.

“After a thorough search of existing transformers to replace the faulty one, we have located a mainland manufacturer and are awaiting a transformer to be built and delivered,” the post read.

The problem? It should be several months before it is delivered to Hawaii, the military said.

“In the electrical industry, substation-class transformers are typically custom designed and built to meet the needs of the overall network where they are intended to be installed,” spokesman Lt. Col. Jamie Dobson said Friday. of the US Army in Hawaii. email response to Stars and Stripes query.

“Schofield Barracks’ electrical system is not common in the industry, partly because of its age,” she said. “The transformer must match the system in order to operate safely and efficiently.”

Corrosion from the weather effects of Oahu’s tropical climate led to the transformer failure, Dobson said.

Until recently, the military owned all of Schofield’s electrical infrastructure, with electricity supplied by Hawaiian Electric, which provides power to approximately 95% of the state’s residents.

The Garrison has been working on a partnership with Hawaiian Electric for several years, Dobson said. In March, the base’s electrical infrastructure was transferred to the company, which has the maintenance and upgrade expertise to bring the electrical system up to current industry standards, she said. declared.

Major General Joseph Ryan, commander of the Hawaii Army Garrison and 25th Infantry Division, prioritized powering homes and barracks. He ordered that non-essential military installations be taken off the power grid or drastically reduce their electricity consumption.

Dobson declined to specify the number of facilities affected due to “operational security concerns.”

She said the command continues to look for ways to reduce demand during peak hours by “identifying additional military installations to take offline or energize, planning extensively to reroute individual circuits to other locations.” other substations, using military power generation means and monitoring the electrical load hourly every night to adjust mitigation efforts.

On Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers Alpha Company, 249th Engineer Battalion, coordinated with Hawaiian Electric and the Army Public Works Branch to hook up generators to the base power grid, Dobson said.

Dubbed “Prime Power,” the battalion is tasked with providing commercial-grade power to military units and federal relief organizations, according to its website.

As of Friday, last week’s Army Garrison Hawaii Facebook post had garnered more than 250 comments, most of them expressing their dissatisfaction with the request to reduce electricity use.

“I know you have to try to save energy as much as possible, but ask people who work during the day not to do the laundry at night when it’s time for them… or ask families not to not use their stove from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.? wrote a Facebook user named Candace Jade May. “When do you want us to have dinner?” At 3:30 p.m.?

Commentator Alexandria Aldape-Ramirez thanked Garrison Command for providing the community of Schofield with ways to help reduce energy consumption.

“Now, maybe one way the command can help is to give those affected a daily meal allowance for dinner?” she wrote. “Eating out every night and/or guessing when to cook for several months is not a practical life.”


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