The substation is no longer needed based on the rail authority’s latest projections on power usage and deferral of the Pearl Highlands parking garage.

Hawaiian Electric Co. and the Honolulu rail authority are negotiating over who will pay for design and other work done on an electrical substation that was supposed to serve the rail line but has now been put on hold.

According to a recent report by a consultant that monitors the Honolulu rail project for the Federal Transit Administration, HECO originally had required the new substation for the rail line’s Maintenance and Storage Facility near Leeward Community College.

However, HECO “recently agreed that the reduced scope of the HART project eliminated the need” for the substation, according to the report by consultant Hill International Inc.

HECO is now seeking $2 million to reimburse the utility for the cost “design and negotiations” related to the substation, an issue that is the subject of “ongoing discussions,” according to the report.

media preview tour Train tracks Skyline Rail Station Kualaka’i East Kapolei security camera
The rail authority and Hawaiian Electric are in negotiations over who will pay $2 million in costs association with a canceled power substation. (Kevin Fujii/Civil Beat/2023)

Staff with the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation did not respond to a request for comment.

Hawaiian Electric spokesman Darren Pai said in a written statement that HECO concluded the Ka’aahi Substation is no longer needed mostly because of a reduction in use of power by the train in the area, and lower power consumption by the rail maintenance and operations center.

The rail authority also deferred the 1,600-stall Pearl Highlands park-and-ride facility, which further reduced the projected power use, according to Pai.

“We have completed design work and started procurement of materials to meet the needs specified in HART’s original service request,” Pai said. “Based on the terms of that agreement, HART is responsible for those costs.”

The rail line was originally supposed to extend from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center, but the city announced last year it planned to shorten the rail line to cut costs. The new plan is to end the line at the “Civic Center” station near the intersection of South and Halekauwila Streets.

That changes included deferring the Pearl Highlands parking garage and shortening the elevated guideway by about a mile, which also eliminated the need for two stations.

The Ka’aahi Substation was expected to cost about $8.8 million, according to a HECO application filed with the state Public Utilities Commission in 2018.

Rail service began in June on nearly 11 miles of the 19-mile project, from East Kapolei to Aloha Stadium, but the project is running more than a decade behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation plans to award the last major contract for the project next year to hire a contractor to build the last three miles of elevated guideway and six rail stations from Middle Street to the Civic Center station.

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