HELCO Update on Power Restoration in Puna

Electric service to approximately 1,500 customers was restored yesterday as crews continue to make progress on restoring power in the Puna District. Power has been restored in Hamakua, Ainaloa, Orchidland Estates, and portions of Upper Puna, Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Approximately 200 workers have mobilized to work in the field on restoring power, including 22 electrical line crews, 14 tree trimming crews, and 25 construction crews contracted to dig holes for utility poles. An additional 40 crew members will be arriving, including crews from Maui Electric, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, and contracted companies.

With the additional workforce, crews have identified some previously unreported outages. In addition, more customers have called in outage reports. Currently, an estimated 6,600 customers are without power. This estimate includes the recently reported outages.

“With all of the additional help we’ve received, our crews are making steady progress and also identifying new problems we need to address. Our customers are also helping by serving as our eyes on the ground. We thank them for their patience and understanding. This really is a collective effort by our entire community to recover from this storm,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

Today, electrical line crews expect to make progress in the following areas: Leilani Estates, Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and portions of Upper Puna. Crews also hope to make progress along the highway from Pahoa to Kalapana.

In addition, contracted tree trimming and construction crews are working to clear fallen trees, debris, and dig utility pole holes in Nanawale Estates, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and other areas throughout the Puna District. This work is needed to prepare the area for electrical line crews to set new poles and repair fallen power lines and other damaged equipment. Restoration progress may be impacted by access to due storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

“We know there are customers in areas where they don’t see crews working. In many cases, we need to do additional work on the system away from their exact location in order to restore their power,” Pai said.

There are pockets throughout the Puna district where the damage is so severe that customers should be prepared for an extended outage. Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage, and in some cases even longer. These estimates are still preliminary and actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

Important safety information

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 will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. Customers may bring their electronic devices and get them charged. A charging station will be available at the center. The center will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.

Puna Power Restoration Update From HELCO

Crews continue to make progress on restoring power to customers affected by Tropical Storm Iselle. An estimated 6,800 – or about eight percent – of customers remain without power, down from an estimated 8,100 on Monday.

Today's update from HELCO

Today’s update from HELCO

“We understand many of our customers are still dealing with a very difficult situation. We are devoting every available resource to this effort. We have made progress and are committed to restoring power as quickly as possible,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

Electrical line crews from West Hawaii have been redeployed to assist with the restoration. They joined a workforce that includes crews, equipment, and vehicles from East Hawaii, Oahu and Maui. Additional contracted crews include electrical line workers, construction crews to dig holes for new utility poles, and tree trimmers to clear fallen trees.

Collectively, these resources are allowing Hawaii Electric Light to maximize its efforts on restoring power in neighborhoods that are still without power.

Today, electrical line crews expect to make progress in the following areas: Hamakua, Upper Puna, Ainaloa, Hawaiian Beaches, and Hawaiian Paradise Park. Contracted crews will also be working in Leilani Estates and Nanawale. In addition, contracted tree trimming and construction crews are working to clear fallen trees, debris, and dig utility pole holes. This work is needed to prepare the area for electrical line crews to set new poles and repair fallen power lines and other damaged equipment. Restoration progress may be impacted by access to due storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Every community in the Puna district was impacted. There are pockets throughout the region where the damage is so severe that customers should be prepared for an extended outage. Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage, and in some cases even longer. These estimates are still preliminary and actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

As a safety precaution, customers should not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment. Customers are also reminded not to 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.

Hawaii Electric Light continues to operate its Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. An estimated 300 to 400 people visited the center when it opened on Monday. Company representatives will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. Customers may bring their electronic devices and get them charged. A charging station will be available at the center. The center will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.

HELCO Statement on Restoring Power to the Puna Areas of the Big Island

Hawaii Electric Light crews are continuing to work on restoring power to customers who lost electricity as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle.

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

An estimated 9,200 customers remain out of power in Hawaiian Paradise Park, Puna, Orchidland Estates, Leilani Estates, Nanawale, Kapoho, Kalapana, Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Shores, and Waipunahina. In addition, there are outages affecting smaller pockets of customers of customers in areas from Hamakua through Volcano. Customers who have not yet reported an outage in a location that is not listed should call 969-6666 to report the outage.

Iselle caused extensive damage to power lines and utility poles and crews are still assessing the damage. As a result, customers still without power should expect extended outages, which could last into next week and in some cases, particularly the Puna area, much longer.

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

Crews are focusing their efforts on repairing damage to the island’s transmission system, which serves as the backbone of the electric grid and is essential to providing service across the island. Much of the damage is in remote areas that are difficult to access. In many cases, crews have to cut their way through fallen trees to provide access for vehicles, equipment and personnel. The Puna District, which was especially hard hit by Iselle, is also quite large; the entire island of O‘ahu can fit within the Puna District.

To assist with the restoration process, Hawaiian Electric crews from O‘ahu and Maui will be traveling to Hawai‘i Island.

All storm-related outages on Oahu and Maui County were restored on Friday.

For those who will be without power for an extended time, below are some food safety tips.

Important safety information for those still without power:

  • When using a portable generator, carefully read and follow instructions in the manufacturer’s manual. Do not plug the generator into your household electrical outlets. Never use a generator inside a home, basement, or garage. Only use the generator outside, away from your home’s windows, doors, and vents. Connect a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated power cord to the generator. Appliances can then be connected to the power cord. Make sure the outdoor-rated power cord is sufficient to handle the maximum electrical flow or electrical load from the generator. Check that the generator is properly grounded. Store reserve fuel in a safe place away from the generator or any other equipment that might ignite the fuel; use containers designed for fuel storage.
  • Stay away from downed power lines. Assume they are energized, or “live,” and dangerous. If you see someone injured after touching a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for help and do not approach the injured person.

Refrigerated foods

  • Discard any perishable food that has been above 41 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, and leftovers before you cook or eat it.
  • Always discard any items in the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices.

Frozen foods

  • Foods can stay frozen in the freezer for one to three days: one day for a half-full freezer, three days for a fully stocked freezer
  • Food that has been thawed completely and has not been held at or below 41 degrees should be cooked and eaten immediately. If your food still has ice crystals, it’s safe to refreeze.

As a general rule, “when it doubt, throw it out.”

If your power is out for an extended period, consider using dry ice if available. Please remember to use gloves or tongs when handling dry ice. Dry ice can be placed directly on top of your foods, since dry ice cools things under it.

These tips have been adapted from the Hawai’i Department of Health’s “Food Safety – During and After a Power Outage” brochure and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Foodsafety.gov website. For specifics on when to save or throw out certain types of food, see pages 68 and 69 in our Handbook for Emergency Preparedness, which can be found on our website at www.hawaiielectriclight.com under the “Safety and Emergency” tab.

Damage Claims:

Customers who wish to submit damage claims can access a claim form at www.hawaiielectriclight.com under the “residential services” section.

Big Island Police Report Members of Public Confronting Electric Workers

The Hawaii Police Department has received information that members of the public have been confronting work crews from HELCO that are attempting to restore power to the lower Puna area.

HPDBadgeHELCO personnel, along with personnel from various County departments, are continuing to address the electrical power and road issues that were caused by Hurricane Iselle and will continue to do so until all roads are accessible and electricity has been restored to all island residents.

The police department asks residents to remain calm and be patient. Confrontations will only delay these personnel from accomplishing these goals. Mahalo

Hawaiian Electric Companies Introduce Ohana Energy Gift Program

The Hawaiian Electric Companies today introduced their new Ohana Energy Gift Program, a thoughtful and practical way for customers to give the gift of energy to their friends and family or to help others in need.

HELCO Logo

The program allows customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light to make payments toward a designated recipient’s electric account. The recipient will receive an acknowledgement letter once the gift amount has been applied to his or her account.

“In Hawaii, we’re blessed to live in a very supportive and generous community. We created this program because over the years we’ve received many requests from our customers for this kind of service,” said Jim Alberts, Hawaiian Electric senior vice president for customer service.

Gift givers will receive a confirmation letter once the designated recipient’s account information has been verified and the gift amount has been applied. Ohana Energy Gifts are not tax deductible donations.

The gifts may be anonymous, or the gift giver may choose to also send a special acknowledgement card with a personalized message.

If a recipient is not designated, the energy gift will be given to individuals and families in need. Application forms may be downloaded from the Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light websites or picked up from any of the companies’ customer service centers.

For more information and downloadable application forms, please visit www.hawaiianelectric.com/gift, www.mauielectric.com/gift, or www.hawaiielectriclight.com/gift.

Lawsuit Charges State Of Hawaii With Breach Of Public Trust – Electric Monopoly

On Wednesday afternoon, September 25, Honolulu attorney, John Carroll, filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii, charging the State of Hawaii with breach of the public trust for its failure to address the State’s energy crisis to the satisfaction of its residents.

The defendants in the case are the State of Hawaii and Neil S. Abercrombie, sued in his capacity as the Governor of the State, responsible for the faithful execution of State law.

HELCO Lawsuit

Click to view lawsuit

Plan Boosts Big Island Geothermal

The electric utility on Hawaii island published Friday the first draft of a plan to add 50 megawatts of geothermal power to the island’s electric grid.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. will seek public comment on the draft to help guide renewable energy developers as they prepare their bids to supply geothermal power to HELCO. A final draft of the document is scheduled to be completed by January, and selection of the winning bidder or bidders is expected by July or August.

An existing 38-megawatt geothermal plant on Hawaii island already accounts for about 20 percent of the island’s peak electrical load. An additional 50 megawatts would push the amount of geothermal generation to nearly 50 percent of peak load.

Inside the Puna Geothermal Ventures plant in Puna, Hawaii

“This project combines our efforts to increase renewable resources on our island with a commitment to reduce costs for consumers,” HELCO President Jay Igna­­cio said.

HELCO customers pay among the highest electricity rates in the state.

HELCO plans to conduct a technical conference webi­nar next month to allow prospective bidders to ask questions and provide comments on the draft document, known as a request for proposals, or RFP.

The contracted price HELCO will pay developers for the geothermal energy will not be linked to the cost of oil, as is the case with many of the other renewable energy projects on Hawaii island.

“This is incredibly important for ratepayers on the Big Island,” said Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz. “This will help stabilize prices. What people on the Big Island need is clean, affordable energy, and that’s the purpose of this RFP.”

One of the keys to making the plan work is engaging the community, he added. “We are working hard to have it done right, respecting the environment and the culture,” Schatz said.

Puna Geothermal Plant

Bringing another 50 megawatts of geothermal power online will pave the way for the eventual retirement of fossil fuel-burning electrical generators on Hawaii island, he said.

More than 40 percent of the electricity consumed on Hawaii island is generated from renewable resources, the highest percentage of any island in the state.

Besides geothermal, Hawaii island has hydroelectric, wind and distributed solar power generation.

Survey Shows Support for Aina Koa Pono

Media Release:

Aina Koa Pono (AKP) received support from Hawaii Island residents in a recent survey, but a larger number revealed that many are still unaware of the company and its Kau project.

The survey results were released today to coincide with the Hawaii Public Utilities’s Commission hearings on Hawaii Electric Light Company’s request for approval of the biofuels contract.

Aina Koa Pono is proposing a biorefinery in Kau which would produce 24 million gallons of biofuel annually—16 million gallons will be used at HELCO’s Keahole power plant and eight million gallons will be distributed by Mansfield Oil for transportation, with preference to Hawaii. When completed, AKP can supply 18 percent of the island’s power needs from renewable resources.

“Hawaii Island residents were surveyed because we wanted to get a sense of the level of acceptance and support for the Kau project,” said Chris Eldridge, partner of AKP. “What we learned was that while there’s support, we need to do more education and outreach.”

AKP engaged SMS Research and Marketing of Honolulu to conduct the survey. The survey, taken in September and October, found that 85 percent support “developing more renewable energy sources for the Island of Hawai‘i.”

The Kau project would provide “base load” electricity, which is essentially steady electricity, as opposed to other alternatives such as wind or solar, which are intermittent and depend on weather conditions.

Aina Koa Pono’s operation would initially convert invasive plant species, coconut husks and macadamia nut hulls to biofuel using Microwave Catalytic Deploymerization (Micro Dee). Microwave technology has been successfully and safely used in the herbal extraction and pharmaceutical industries for decades.

SMS Research has served organizations in Hawaii for more than 50 years.

The research also indicated that a large minority Hawaii Island residents do not know enough about Aina Koa Pono or its project.

SMS Research found that only 10 percent of those interviewed knew about the Aina Koa Pono project when asked on an unaided basis. Of the residents who knew of the project, 65 percent support the project compared to 16 percent who do not.

A description of the project was provided to all respondents and when asked whether they favor or oppose the project, 56 percent stated they were in favor of the project as compared to 11 percent opposed— a 5-to-1 ratio. 33 percent stated they did not know enough about the project.

“We have been meeting with folks in Kau and will be increasing our outreach to the community so they are aware of our project,” Eldridge said.

Excluding those who do not know enough, the support for Aina Koa Pono development is strong in the areas of safety, keeping money in the State, additional jobs, revitalization of Hawaii’s agricultural industry, reduction of electric bills for Island residents, and more.

Again, excluding those who do not know enough, some of the concerns with the project include the perception that Aina Koa Pono will be run by outsiders, may have some impact on traffic, biofuel will cost more to produce than imported oil, and the plant will be too expensive to build.

“Serious misinformation is circulating throughout the community. Aina Koa Pono is locally owned and the $450 million project is privately funded,” Eldridge said. “Eight to 12 trucks a week will deliver biofuel to Keahole. The project poses no financial risk to ratepayers, who pay nothing until the biofuel is produced and accepted by HELCO.”

The Aina Koa Pono project would increase electricity bills for HECO and HELCO customers by 84 cents to $1 a month for typical 500 to 600 kWh usage.

At the conclusion of the survey, participants were asked again the level of support or opposition to the development of the biofuel plant at Kau, a majority of 63 percent support versus 12 percent who oppose with 25 percent having no opinion.

The final report will be released by SMS Research shortly.

(Research Methodology: 303 interviews conducted between September 20 to October 3, 2012, margin of error is +/– 5.6 percentage points.)

Big Island Gets Hit Hard by Island Wide Black Out

Well we had an island wide black out that affected a lot of events on the Island.

Here’s a picture of the event:

Over at Kona Bowl… they had to cancel “The Green” concert (update:  they were able to carry on about an hour later.) At Hilo Civic they had a big concert that was going on.

I’m wondering if all these events going on this 4th of July weekend just caused our power grid to get overwhelmed?

Two Weeks of Palani Road Work Begins Monday

Media Release:

Roadwork on Palani Road in North Kona begins Nov. 30 and will continue through Dec. 14.

From Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, Bolton Inc., will resurface and widen Palani Road near Grace Community Church .  Night roadwork hours are 8 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.  Off-duty officers will direct traffic and motorists should expect delays. Future night roadwork is planned for later to install a turn lane.

During the week of Dec. 7-14, Bolton personnel will work on a water system for Grace Community Church . Traffic is not affected

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Palani+Road+and+Palihiolo+Street&sll=19.664614,-155.980883&sspn=0.018428,0.027595&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Palani+Rd+%26+Palihiolo+St,+Kailua,+Hawaii,+96725&z=16&ll=19.666053,-155.981294&output=embed&w=425&h=350]

The week of Dec. 2-4, HELCO will install four concrete utility poles, at the intersection of  Palani Road , Palihiolo Street and at the new Kealaka’a Extension Street .  Phone and cable work is scheduled to begin early 2010, after the utility poles are installed.

From Dec. 7-10, traffic on Palani Road will be re-routed to the new Kealaka’a Street Extension and to Ulua‘o‘a Street. HELCO will lay the foundation to begin work on transmission lines.  Kealaka’a Street to Palihiolo Street will be closed.

One night during the week of Dec. 14, traffic on Palani Road will again be re-routed to the new Kealaka’a Street Extension and to Ulua‘o‘a Street.  HELCO will transfer power lines from Kealaka’a Street to Laimana Street .

HELCO will hire Aloha Security to direct traffic during roadwork between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Palihiolo Street remains closed and residents of Queen Liliuokalani subdivision are asked to continue using Konalani Street .

Call the County hotline at 334-9559 for project updates for Grace Community Church and HELCO.