Oahu crews to arrive on Big Island to restore power

By Clayton Wakida, KITV Digital Media Manager, KITV Digital Media Manager
Published On: Aug 11 2014 11:43:30 AM HST
Updated On: Aug 11 2014 12:47:33 PM HST
HELCO crews

HILO, Hawaii -

Crews from Hawai'i Electric Light will be joined on Monday by Oahu crews from Hawaiian Electric as work continues on restoring power to customers affected by Tropical Storm Iselle.

Additional field crews are being brought in from the mainland.  Contract construction crews are also supplementing the restoration workforce.

"We understand this is a difficult time for our customers, so we’re essentially tripling our workforce and doing everything we can to restore power as quickly as possible," said Darren Pai, Hawai'i Electric Light spokesman.

Crews have been able to stabilize the island's transmission system, which serves as the backbone of the electric grid and is essential to maintaining service.  Restoration efforts are now focused on neighborhoods that are still without power.  Power was restored Sunday night to portions of Hawaiian Paradise Park.

On Monday, crews expect to make progress in the following areas: Paauilo Mauka, Orchidland, Fern Acres, and Mountain View.  Electrical line crews are also working in Ainaloa and Leilani Estates subdivisions. Restoration progress may be impacted by access to due storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Hawai'i Electric Light expects to be able to have crews working on Tuesday in Hawaiian Beaches and the remaining portions of Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Click here to watch aerial footage of the damage in Puna on YouTube.

In many areas, the restoration process involves three significant processes, each requiring different sets of work crews.  First, in many cases tree trimming crews must clear away fallen trees and other debris so crews may access the areas.  Second, excavation crews must dig new holes so replacement utility poles may be set.  Depending on soil and terrain issues, this can be a time consuming process. Finally, electrical line crews will set new poles and repair downed power lines.

Some locations do not require replacement of downed utility poles.  In these cases, electrical line crews are working to repair fallen power lines and other repairs needed to restore power.  In these cases, restoration is faster than in areas that require pole replacements.

“Our customers will see many different crews and vehicles from different companies working in their neighborhoods. They are all part of our collective effort to restore power,” Pai said.

Customers are 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 911 for assistance.

Hawai'i Electric Light also opened on Monday a Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches.  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 centers will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.

In addition, Hawaiian Beaches Water Company will be on hand at the Customer Information Center to distribute water for free.  Each family may receive up to five gallons of water and must bring their own containers.

PHOTOS: Iselle storm damage, preps

Click here to see a slideshow of Iselle-related photos.

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