East Hawaii News

Midweek Power Outage Affects More Than 2,000 Customers in Hilo

By Nathan Christophel
July 14, 2022, 3:30 PM HST
* Updated July 14, 2:39 PM
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More than 2,000 electric customers in a portion of Hilo were without power for nearly two hours Wednesday night, July 13, because of a tree falling on power lines.

According to the Hawaiian Electric – Hawai‘i Island Twitter account, the outage started sometime around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. It encompassed an area from Aipuni Street to Akolea Road in the Kaumana area and affected 2,165 customers. The tweet also said a first responder was on their way to investigate the outage.

A tweet from the utility company at 9:24 p.m. provided an update, saying the power outage was caused by a tree in lines on Akolea Road and that additional crews were headed to clear the vegetation.

Kristen Okinaka, Hawaiian Electric senior communications consultant, confirmed Thursday, July 14, in an email to Big Island Now that the outage affected 2,165 customers and was indeed because of a felled tree. She said the tree fell on a transmission line located near Akolea Road.

Power was restored to the majority of affected customers by 10 p.m. Wednesday; however, a tweet from Hawaiian Electric at 10:16 p.m. said there were still about 154 customers on Akolea Road without power.

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Crews finished clearing the tree from the lines and power was restored to the last remaining affected customers by 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning, according to the Hawaiian Electric – Hawai‘i Island twitter account. The tweet with that update was made at 7:44 a.m. Thursday.

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Okinaka reported the outage started at 8:44 p.m. Wednesday. Power was restored to 1,140 of the affected customers by 9:17 p.m., with another 876 getting power back by 9:35 p.m. The final 149 affected customers had their power restored by 1:23 a.m. Thursday, she said.

“Power was rerouted (switching) to restore power to most customers,” Okinaka said in her email. “The remaining customers were restored after the tree was removed and repairs were completed.”

Okinaka said the utility company has faced issues like what happened Wednesday night before and has a vegetation management program to help mitigate. Hawaiian Electric also filed a resilience plan with the state Public Utilities Commission to build greater resilience into its power systems.

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The final tweet about the outage reminded customers to report a power outage on the Big Island by calling 808-969-6666. Customers also can get outage and safety information by visiting the Hawaiian Electric website. You can also follow @HIElectricLight on Twitter.

“We encourage customers to visit our website for practical tips,” Okinaka said.

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel has more than 20 years of experience in journalism, starting out as a reporter and working his way up to become a copy editor and page designer, most recently at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo.
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