Hawaii moves to shore up Oahu's electrical grid

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 7, 2014 at 9:51 pm •  Published: February 7, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii civil defense officials said Friday they're launching a project to improve the security and resiliency of Oahu's electrical grid.

The state Department of Defense will work with Hawaiian Electric, IBM, U.S. Pacific Command and other entities on a study exploring options.

"Essentially, this effort will ultimately be focused on building a more secure grid for Hawaiian Electric customers, while ensuring the most reliable power sources," Maj. Gen. Darryll Wong, the state adjutant general and director of state civil defense, said in a statement.

Researchers will analyze weather patterns to better understand how cloudy days and lack of wind will affect the power supply. This is becoming more important as the island generates more electricity with solar panels and wind turbines.

They'll also strive to understand how to better protect the grid from attacks like one that hit Silicon Valley one day after the Boston Marathon bombings.

In that incident south of San Jose, unidentified individuals fired shots into a power plant substation, damaging at least five transformers and causing an oil leak. They also cut AT&T fiber-optic cables, temporarily knocking out phone service, including 911 lines.

Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Jon Wellinghoff earlier this week described the attack as an act of terrorism, but the FBI has said it's found no indications to back that up. The FBI is investigating the incident.

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