Hawaiian Electric advises preparation for hurricane season

Year-round work to harden grid will help mitigate potential storm impacts

Release Date: 6/1/2023

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HONOLULU, June 1, 2023 – With hurricane season underway in the Central Pacific Hawaiian Electric is advising residential and commercial customers to be prepared and have emergency plans in place.

The Central Pacific Hurricane Center is predicting a near-to-above-normal season due to El Nino conditions. The forecast is for four to seven tropical cyclones for the region, an estimate that includes tropical depressions, named storms and hurricanes. Hurricane season runs from today through Nov. 30.

Hawaiian Electric crews work year-round to make the company’s five island grids more resilient so they are better able to withstand severe events, including weather-related disasters. Efforts include hardening poles, power lines, and other equipment. The utility also spent $17 million in 2022 to clear trees and vegetation from around power lines and equipment, resulting in fewer and briefer outages during storms.

Hawaiian Electric’s work to boost resilience includes equipment upgrades as well as longer-term planning efforts that will benefit customers well into the future. Here are some examples of the company’s ongoing resilience work:

  • Oahu:
    • Began work under a contract to own, operate and maintain the Army’s electrical distribution system at its 12 Oahu-based installations for a period of 50 years. The contract includes 13 projects that will vastly improve resilience and reliability of the Army’s electrical distribution system.
    • Replaced or upgraded structures supporting five major cross-island high-voltage transmission lines, including the Koolau-Pukele line crossing the Koolau range.
  • Maui County:
    • Replaced more than 330 poles on Maui, Lanai and Molokai to maintain strength and safety standards based on inspections and testing.
    • Inspected, maintained and pruned vegetation on over 415 miles of overhead power lines throughout Maui County to prevent limbs and vines from growing into power lines or contacting them during high winds.
    • Installed more than 120 grid-protecting devices to help prevent outages and limit service interruptions to a smaller number of customers.
  • Hawaii Island:
    • Installed 40 grid protecting devices in various locations around Hawaii Island to prevent or limit outages to fewer customers.
    • Commissioned the first smart loop on Hawaii Island to provide intelligent automatic switching that will restore and isolate faulted areas.

To prepare for the hurricane season, customers can refer to the company’s Handbook for Emergency Preparedness. Digital copies of the handbook and a keiki-friendly booklet featuring Maka the Super Safety Hero are available at hawaiianelectric.com/prepare. The link includes information about where printed copies of the handbook can be picked up on all islands in Hawaiian Electric’s service territory.

Residents should develop their own emergency plans and consider these tips:

  • Gather emergency supplies, such as a battery-powered radio, flashlights, lanterns and batteries. Be prepared to monitor communications over emergency broadcast radio stations.
  • Store enough water, non-perishable food, medicine and personal hygiene supplies for your family members and pets to last at least 14 days.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electric appliances and equipment during a storm or a power outage. When power comes back and is stable, plug in the equipment one at a time.
  • Shut off your electricity at the main breaker or switch if you need to evacuate.
  • Consider having a backup generator if you are dependent on an electrically powered life support system. Or, make plans to go to an alternate location where electricity will be available. Be prepared to take your medical equipment and medications with you.
  • If your business or residence is equipped with a backup generator, learn how to properly operate the device to avoid causing damage or injury.
  • Prepare a list of emergency contacts including phone numbers for insurance agents, vendors, physicians, or any other important individuals.
  • If you see a downed power line, assume it is energized and dangerous. Stay away from downed power lines – at least 30 feet or more (at least two car lengths).