Hawai‘i Electric Light Working to Maintain Power for Lower Puna

Hawai‘i Electric Light officials say the company is continuing with its efforts to maintain electric service for communities being impacted by the eruption and lava flows that began in Leilani Estates four weeks ago.

About 800 customers in Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens, and Kapoho are experiencing extended power outages due to the destruction of poles, lines and equipment, the company said in a release on Thursday afternoon.

“Power will not be restored in areas with active eruption activity or extensive damage,” the statement read. “Once the situation stabilizes and Civil Defense officials deem the impacted areas are safe to enter, utility personnel will conduct a full assessment and select the most suitable plan to restore electric service.”

The company has implemented some of its contingency plans to prevent or minimize extended power outages in communities impacted by lava flows.

On Monday, switching operations were performed to reroute power to customers in lower Puna as the lava flow approached and eventually crossed Highway 132.

On Thursday, as a preventative measure, crews connected two transmission lines near the Ainaloa subdivision to make the electric grid more resilient if a problem were to occur with other transmission lines on the grid.

Officials say, engineers continue to develop contingency plans which include line extensions, steel poles, and microgrids.

Despite the loss of independent power producer Puna Geothermal Venture on May 3, Hawai‘i Electric Light still has sufficient generation to meet the island’s electricity needs using wind, hydropower, solar, and fossil fueled generation.

The Hawai‘i Electric Light website provides the latest information for customers affected by the eruption and for those who may have questions about billing and service during the emergency.

May 13 Hawai`i Electric Light photo.