(ABOVE) Image of downed power lines courtesy Hawai‘i Electric Light Company.
PUNA, Hawaii – The Hawaii Electric Light Company says it will open a Customer Information Center in Puna on Monday morning to provide the public with answers. Customers who are still without power at this time should expect an extended outage into next week and, in some cases, much longer, the utility has said.
The center will be at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. The center will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
From a HELCO media release:
Company representatives will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle. 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 as the restoration process continues.
“We know our customers want to know more about the work that’s being done to recover from this devastating storm. We appreciate their patience and want to assure them we’re working as quickly as possible to restore power,” said Rhea Lee, Hawai‘i Electric Light spokeswoman.Hawaii Electric Light Company media release
HELCO says the Hawaiian Beaches Water Company will be on hand to distribute water for free. Each family may receive up to five gallons of water and must bring their own containers.
HELCO President Jay Ignacio issued this statement on Sunday:
“We understand the frustration of our customers who are still without power and sincerely apologize to them. We understand that customers want estimated restoration times so they can plan. Unfortunately, the extent of damage is worse than anything we’ve ever seen here. We’re working on providing more specific, reliable estimates and hope to do so by tomorrow (Monday) morning. Customers without power should expect to remain without it well into next week, if not longer. Again, we apologize and ask for their continued patience.
“Our first priority was to repair our high–voltage transmission lines. With the backbone of the island’s electric system restored, and our grid more stable, crews can start working on restoring neighborhood circuits for customers who are still without power.
“When Iselle hit Hawai‘i Island, the wind and rain caused trees to topple and fly into power lines, breaking lines and poles. We were in a very precarious situation at the end of last week. As Iselle hit our island, we started losing our transmission lines – the backbone of our electric grid – and came very close to losing the whole island. Of the 35 transmission lines on the island, we lost more than half during the storm. Both the north and south transmission lines were lost as well as the transmission lines serving Puna Geothermal Venture.
“As soon as Iselle passed, crews began working to repair the high voltage transmission lines. Some of these lines could be restored through automatic switching.
“But others, like the line that runs from Papaikou to Kalopa Mauka/Makai, have to be partially rebuilt. Some of the broken poles were on very high embankments. Crews worked around the clock to rebuild this section of the line, only to have another tree fall onto lines in another area.
“The transmission line serving Puna Geothermal Venture goes through a forested area near Nanawale Estates, and our crews cannot reach this line because of the many fallen trees. That area has at least 19 broken poles and will take a very long time to rebuild, starting with bulldozers to clear a path for trucks and crews.
“We thank our customers for their efforts to reduce energy use on Friday so we could meet the energy demands of the whole island.”Jay Ignacio in HELCO media release