East Hawaii News

Hawai’i Electric Light Crews Continue Power Restoration

January 6, 2015, 8:04 AM HST
* Updated January 6, 8:07 AM
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Hawai‘i Electric Light crews continue to make progress on restoring electric service to customers affected by recent severe weather conditions.

Repairs were completed Monday in Ainaloa, Mauna Loa Estates, Orchidland, Nānāwale, Hawi (except for Beers Road), portions of Honoka‘a and Āhualoa, most of lower Puna, Pu‘ukapu, and most of the Volcano area. Crews will be working Tuesday in Āhualoa, Beers Road, Discovery Harbor, Fern Acres, Hawaiian Acres, Honoka‘a, Kalōpā Mauka, Ka‘u, lower Puna, Paauilo, Volcano, and Wood Valley on Tuesday. About 360 customers are currently without power.

The community is encouraged to be safe and treat downed power lines as energized and dangerous. Do not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment. If someone is injured by a downed power line, do not approach them. Call 9-1-1 for assistance.

Customers who remain with power and have not reported it are asked to call 969-6666. Due to the high call volume, customers may experience a longer wait time before speaking with a representative. The company sincerely apologizes for this inconvenience and thanks customers for their patience and understanding.

On a separate note, the company received questions from customers who experienced many short power interruptions during the storm and wondered why that was occurring. During storms, strong winds can blow tree branches and other debris into power lines and cause short circuits. Lightning also can strike near power lines and cause short circuits. This can create very high currents, and the power lines must be turned off very quickly to prevent damage or further disruption to the rest of the power system.

Hawai‘i Electric Light uses automatic sensing devices to detect these short circuits and turn off power to the lines in a fraction of a second; this is when customers see a power interruption. In many cases, once the power is turned off, the line can be turned back on because the tree branch that caused the short circuit clears the line or the lightning strike dissipates. The automatic devices wait a few seconds and then turn on the power to the line; this is when customers see their power restored after a short time. Customers can experience multiple brief power interruptions during a storm because of frequent lightning strikes or trees and debris being blown into lines.

“We realize this can be frustrating for customers, but the alternative would be to have the power remain out of service during the entire storm since it would be too hazardous for electric utility workers to respond during the height of the storm when there are dangerous winds and lightning,” said Hawai‘i Electric Light spokesperson Rhea Lee. “We hope that our customers have a better understanding of what occurs during storms.”

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