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HELCO: Power restored to all but 3,800 Big Island customers

August 15, 2014 - 12:26pm

Crews continue to make progress on restoring power, restoring electric service to approximately 2,500 customers yesterday. Currently, an estimated 3,800 customers remain without power.

More than 200 workers have mobilized to work in the field on restoring power, including 26 electrical line crews, 14 tree trimming crews, and 30 construction crews contracted to dig holes for utility poles. The combined workforce will include crews from Hawaii island, Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and contracted companies.

Friday, electrical line crews expect to continue making progress in the following areas: Nanawale Estates, Leilani Estates, Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and portions of Upper Puna. In addition, crews expect to make progress down Pahoa-Kapalama Road.

Some areas of focus today include:

· Nanawele Estates - In Nanawale Estates, crews are working on the main power line that brings electric service to the subdivision. Contracted crews are also preparing the area by clearing and trimming trees and digging holes for new utility poles.

· Hawaiian Paradise Park - In Hawaiian Paradise Park, crews have restored most of the main lines along Makuu and are focusing on Paradise Drive and the area between 21st and 12th Avenues, which suffered extensive damage from trees.

· Hawaiian Beaches - In Hawaiian Beaches, crews have restored main lines along Kahakai Boulevard down to Puni Makai Loop. Crews are still addressing side streets in the vicinity of Puni Makai South.

· Leilani Estates - In Leilani Estates, crews have restored power along Leilani Boulevard and are now working on side streets, which suffered extensive damage from fallen trees.

In addition, contracted tree trimming and construction crews are working to clear fallen trees and debris and dig utility pole holes in Nanawale Estates, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaiian Beaches, Leilani Estates, Upper Puna, Keeau Agricultural Lots, and other areas throughout the Puna District. Restoration progress may be impacted by access because of storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

The process for restoring service involves many steps that need to be coordinated to ensure public and utility workers’ safety. We’re also working on deploying the right resources to ensure crews can restore power as quickly as possible.

· Assess damage: Damage assessments by field crews identify the extent of damage and the specific materials – including poles, transformers, and power lines – that have need repair or replacement.

· Clear trees and debris/dig holes: Contracted tree trimming and construction crews then need to clear fallen trees and debris and dig holes for utility poles

· Install poles, restring lines, and install transformers: Electrical line crews can then be deployed to begin installing the poles, framing the cross arms on the poles, restringing lines, and installing transformers and other equipment.

· Repair main line first before energizing: Work is first done on the main lines serving subdivisions to restore the connection into those neighborhoods. Side streets can then be restored. Even after power is restored to a neighborhood, there may still be damage at individual homes or pockets of homes within a neighborhood that will need to be addressed separately.

As the restoration work progresses, Hawaii Electric Light urges the public to remember these important safety tips:

· Do not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment.

· Do not approach any downed power lines, as they may have electricity running through them and can be dangerous. If you see someone injured by a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for assistance.

· Use generators outdoors and away from flammable materials. Generators connected directly to your home may feed excess electricity back into power lines, creating a public safety hazard. Plug appliances directly into your generator, using extension cords.

· Unplug unnecessary and sensitive electronic equipment. Use high-quality surge suppressors for electric appliances that remain plugged in.

· Use batteries to power flashlights and lanterns. Do not use candles or other flammable fuel sources, as they are fire hazards.

· Be aware of trees and utility poles that were weakened by storm winds and have the potential for falling.

Hawaii Electric Light continues to operate its Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. Several hundred people have been visiting the center daily. Company representatives are on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. A charging station will be available at the center. Customers may bring their electronic devices to the center and get them charged there. The center will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.

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