Updated 

HELCO continues power restoration, opens information center in Puna


Hawaii Electric Light Co. reports as of Sunday night about 8,100 customers, approximately 10 percent of the utility’s customers, remained without power, mostly in the Puna District, but also in smaller pockets in East Hawaii.

Power was restored to a portion of Hawaiian Paradise Park late Saturday afternoon. This work brought the power back on for customers on Kaloli, Beach Road, and parts of Paradise Drive. By fixing the lines that bring power into the neighborhood, crews can now focus on individual streets in Hawaiian Paradise Park, the utility said.

Customers who have not yet reported their outage should call 969-6666 to report it.

HELCO says it will continue to prioritize work that will bring service back to the largest number of customers while keeping the grid stable.

Downed power lines should be considered dangerous. Do not approach a downed line or attempt to move it. If you see someone injured by a downed line, call 911 for assistance.

Customers are asked to check that stoves and other appliances are turned off or unplugged to avoid safety hazards or damage to their appliances as power is restored.

HELCO President Jay Ignacio released this written statement on Sunday:

“We understand the frustration of our customers who are still without power and sincerely apologize to them. We understand that customers want estimated restoration times so they can plan. Unfortunately, the extent of damage is worse than anything we’ve ever seen here. We’re working on providing more specific, reliable estimates and hope to do so by (this) morning. Customers without power should expect to remain without it well into next week, if not longer. Again, we apologize and ask for their continued patience.

“Our first priority was to repair our high–voltage transmission lines. With the backbone of the island’s electric system restored, and our grid more stable, crews can start working on restoring neighborhood circuits for customers who are still without power.”

When Iselle hit Hawaii Island, the wind and rain caused trees to topple and fly into power lines, breaking lines and poles. We were in a very precarious situation at the end of last week. As Iselle hit our island, we started losing our transmission lines – the backbone of our electric grid – and came very close to losing the whole island. Of the 35 transmission lines on the island, we lost more than half during the storm. Both the north and south transmission lines were lost as well as the transmission lines serving Puna Geothermal Venture.

As soon as Iselle passed, crews began working to repair the high voltage transmission lines. Some of these lines could be restored through automatic switching.

But others, like the line that runs from Papaikou to Kalopa Mauka/Makai, have to be partially rebuilt. Some of the broken poles were on very high embankments. Crews worked around the clock to rebuild this section of the line, only to have another tree fall onto lines in another area.

The transmission line serving Puna Geothermal Venture goes through a forested area near Nanawale Estates, and our crews cannot reach this line because of the many fallen trees. That area has at least 19 broken poles and will take a very long time to rebuild, starting with bulldozers to clear a path for trucks and crews.

We thank our customers for their efforts to reduce energy use on Friday so we could meet the energy demands of the whole island.”

Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric are sending crews, vehicles and other equipment to assist with the restoration. In addition, contracted construction and tree-trimming companies are also participating. Collectively, this will nearly triple the number of crews in the field conducting damage assessment and working to restore power to customers, HELCO said.

All workers participating with the restoration process will be wearing badges identifying them as employees of Hawaii Electric Light, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, or an approved utility contractor. Customers should feel free to ask for proper identification if approached by someone who says they are from Hawaii Electric Light or any other organization. Utility company vehicles are clearly marked. Approved contractors have signs for their vehicles indicating they are working on behalf of the company.

HELCO has also opened a Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches.

The center will be open from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Company representatives will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle. Customers may bring their electronic devices and get them charged. A charging station will be available at the center. The center will remain open daily as the restoration process continues.

“We know our customers want to know more about the work that’s being done to recover from this devastating storm. We appreciate their patience and want to assure them we’re working as quickly as possible to restore power,” said HELCO spokeswoman Rhea Lee.

In addition, Hawaiian Beaches Water Company will be on hand to distribute water for free. Each family may receive up to five gallons of water and must bring their own containers.

The Red Cross moved its emergency shelter for displaced residents from Aunty Sally’s Luau Hale in Hilo to Pahoa Community Center on Sunday night.

All Pahoa Community Center activities are cancelled for today.

The Pahoa Pool will also remain open 24 hours daily for residents to take showers and charge cell phones. The pool is not open for swimming.

All Department of Education public schools are open today, except Waiakea High School and Ke Kula ʻo Nawahiokalaniʻopuʻu charter school.

 

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