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HELCO Activates Emergency Response Plans for TS Olivia

September 10, 2018, 2:22 PM HST (Updated September 10, 2018, 2:29 PM)
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As Tropical Storm Olivia heads closer to the islands, the Hawaiian Electric Companies is activating its emergency response plans, going through pre-storm checklists and readying crews to respond.

The companies are closely monitoring TS Olivia, which has potential to cause major damage.

Forecasts show that the islands will experience wind and heavy rain as early as tomorrow.

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaiʻi Electric Light are closely monitoringHurricane Olivia and are making emergency preparations as the storm approaches the companies’ five-island service territory.

The companies are going through pre-storm checklists.

There are 2,700 employees across the three companies who will be ready to help restore power and assist customers in their communities after the storm has passed and when conditions are safe to do so. More than 500 contractors are also available.

The companies are in touch with the Western Regional Mutual Assistance Group and other utility industry organizations that are ready to provide resources if requested.

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“The Hawaiian Electric Companies have focused on hardening our island grids over the past several years, but they are not immune to storms like Olivia,” said Ron Cox, senior vice president of operations. “There will be outages if the islands are hit by powerful winds, torrential rain, and flooding. Once the storm has passed and it is safe for our crews to begin restoration, we will work as quickly and safely as possible to restore power.”

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaiʻi Electric Light emergency responders are going through pre-storm checklists to ensure critical preparations are being made. Here is what the companies are doing ahead of Hurricane Olivia:

  • All three companies are taking inventory of fuel supply, checking generators, and ensuring that all equipment inside and outside of our facilities are secure.
  • Maui Electric is assigning and pre-positioning workers as needed.
  • Together the companies have more than 500 contractors in place if needed. For instance, Hawai‘i Electric Light is contacting and securing contractors for various services such as tree trimming, pole hole digging, electrical, and construction workers.
  • The companies are working with response partners, including civil defense agencies, FEMA and other government entities.
  • The companies are in contact with the Western Regional Mutual Assistance Group, which is comprised of dozens of utilities ready to provide utility workers and equipment as needed. Other utility industry organizations such as the Edison Electric Institute also are on standby to help in areas such as communications, if needed.

Prior to storm season HELCO conducts extensive training to prepare employees to respond safely and as quickly as possible if a storm threatens our service territory. The companies have invested more than $1.5 billion over the past seven years to upgrade and reinforce poles, lines and equipment, which will help the utilities recover quicker after a storm.

As the storm approaches, customers should review family and business emergency plans, ensure they have supplies they need on hand and keep close watch on the development of the storm system.

Consider the following safety and preparedness tips:

  • Unplug electric appliances you may not need or use until the storm has passed or until power is restored
  • If you plan to use a portable generator after the storm, make sure it is placed in a well-ventilated area (outside the home), and be sure to carefully follow all instructions in the manufacturer’s manual
  • If you have photovoltaic panels installed on your roof, many solar PV systems will not operate when power is out. Grid-tied systems are designed to shut down in the event of outages for safety reasons. This is true for all systems except those that are designed to provide emergency back-up power in the event of an outage. Check with your contractor if you have any questions

More electrical safety and preparation tips are available in the companies’ Handbook for Emergency Preparedness, available in five languages at www.hawaiianelectric.com/prepare,
www.mauielectric.com/prepare and www.hawaiielectriclight.com/prepare.

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