East Hawaii News

Hawai’i Electric Light Utility Pole Impacted by Lava

October 28, 2014, 10:12 PM HST
* Updated October 28, 10:15 PM
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Hawai’i Electric Light issued a release at 8:30 p.m. announcing that there has been no power interruptions due to lava and that utility poles along Apa’a Street continue to remain in place.

According to the release, however, it appears that one of the poles is beginning to show the impacts of the lava’s heat.

“This morning, our technical experts found the pole that was surrounded by lava had sunk about ten feet and either steam or smoke was coming through the cinder piled around the pole. We suspect the pole is burning slowly at the ground level. We cooled the pole and protective barrier with water and will continue to monitor the condition of the pole. At this time, the pole remains standing and it does not appear to have sunk further,” said spokesperson Rhea Lee.

“As a precautionary measure, we took the transmission line out of service while we evaluated the situation and cooled the pole,” Lee continued. “We put this line back in service this afternoon. However, we were able to keep power on for all customers through an alternative transmission line.”

Hawai’i Electric Light plans to continue on with other contingency plans, should the flow damage power lines.

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One of the plans is to relocate a portion of the primary distribution line to the opposite side of Pahoa Village Road onto two taller poles installed under a joint pole agreement with Hawaiian Telcom. The taller poles were spaced further apart than normal and allowed Hawaiian Telcom to raise their cables higher on the pole. Hawai’i Electric Light was then able to cut the tops of the poles located on the opposite side of the road to reduce the height of the poles in the event lava causes them to fall, thereby minimizing the chance the poles would cause damage to the pole line across the street. The shorter poles contain a distribution line serving customers in the immediate area. Hawai’i Electric Light will keep the power on for customers in this section of Pahoa Village Road for as long as it is safe to do so.

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Another contingency plan is that crews are extending the distribution line on Government Beach Road between Hawaiian Paradise Park and Hawaiian Beaches to provide power to Hawaiian Beaches, should existing lines located closer to Highway 130 become inoperable.

Additionally, Hawai’i Electric Light has relocated a large diesel generator to Puna and will be moving a second large diesel generator to the same location. These units will be able to provide power for the lower portion of Puna if this section is cut off from the rest of the island grid.

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