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Problematic HELCO Line Causes Another Outage

Posted March 25, 2013, 04:55 PM HST
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An as-yet unidentified problem with this transmission line that runs from Pohoiki to other parts of Puna is causing outages for HELCO customers. Google Street View image.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. said 5,309 of its customers were left without power briefly today when a transmission line unexpectedly shut down.

The outage occurred at 11:08 a.m. and the customers were located in the Waiakea area of Hilo and in Puna.

HELCO spokesman Roger Keller said the transmission line, which originates in lower Puna, has been a source of problems since March 10, causing outages for thousands more customers during that time.

He said that was the same line that tripped off on March 13 which knocked Puna Geothermal Venture off the grid, forcing the plant’s operators to carry out a partial release of steam pressure.

Keller said the utility’s crews have been carrying out increased scrutiny of the line for the past two weeks in an attempt to identify the problem.

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The efforts have included additional infrared analysis to locate unusual heat sources as well as the use of a helicopter to survey the line. One portion of the line that ran through heavy vegetation required the use of a bulldozer to provide crews access, he said.

“They haven’t found anything yet,” he said.

Keller said the inspections will continue until the cause of the problem is identified and corrected.

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