Island-wide outage on Kaua'i: Clouds block solar recovery after generator's cable failure

After an arc flash in a gas generator caused an island wide power outage on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i, solar and battery storage systems were able to provide resilient power initially. Due to cloudy weather, however, solar production was low and battery reserves were exhausted, leading to rolling blackouts on the island starting a day after the initial fault.
  • Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) on Monday identified the cause of an island-wide blackout on Sunday that left customers without power for more than two hours.
  • The utility concluded its largest generator "suffered a cable failure," which caused a fault and an arc flash in the generator breaker's internal bus bars. The 27.5 MW steam-injected gas turbine at the Kapaia plant then tripped offline, resulting in a "cascading effect on other generation sources," KIUC said in an update. 
  • The utility expects the unit will be back in service by the end of this week. KIUC officials are still calling for power conservation, as solar production has struggled to meet peak demand and meant rolling blackouts were necessary across the island yesterday as the island recharged its battery energy storage system.