Hawaiian Electric completes West Maui transmission line work

Restoration efforts continue to help power critical infrastructure

Release Date: 5/9/2024

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KAHULUI, May 9, 2024 – A critical transmission line that serves as a back-up route of power to approximately 11,000 customers in West Maui is now online after Hawaiian Electric rebuilt the line along former routes in the Lahaina area with new steel and wood poles and electrical equipment.

This rebuilding of interim overhead infrastructure is a major milestone in the ongoing recovery efforts in West Maui. The transmission line helps to maintain reliable service as it provides another route of energy delivery to Lahaina as well as Puukolii, Mahinahina, Napili, Kaanapali, and Kapalua.

Such transmission lines are built for redundancy when more than one circuit serves larger areas. Should one line or circuit go out of service for maintenance or during emergencies, the electricity path can be switched to an alternate route to continue to provide power to customers in the area.

Transmission systems are the backbone of an electrical system because they provide power from the power plants and other energy resources on the island to substations. From the substations, the electricity then travels through both underground and overhead distribution lines to our customers.

The Lahaina transmission work involved the planning, design and installation of more than 70 new steel poles along with eight new wood poles that are rated to current regulated utility safety standards. The steel poles replaced wood poles that were part of the former transmission and distribution route in the area. Some of the original wood poles on this route were damaged during the August 2023 windstorm and wildfires.

This work was completed within an aggressive and accelerated timeframe since last November that also involved bringing additional line crew members from Molokai and Lanai. Once the construction of the transmission lines were completed, a re-inspection and vegetation management protocol was performed along the lines, system protection settings were checked, and transmission and system engineers set up auto-transfer settings that now help to increase the overall service reliability to the west side.

The upgrade of the West Maui transmission line is just one part of Hawaiian Electric’s ongoing restoration efforts and involved the planning, designing, and rebuilding of electrical infrastructure to provide power to critical infrastructure, including water pumps and the Lahaina Small Boat Harbor’s fuel pumping station, and all done in collaboration with federal, state and county agencies. Hawaiian Electric is also currently working on plans to assist in the interconnection of several temporary housing sites of more than 900 housing units in West Maui.

The company looks forward to working with the Lahaina community and government officials on community-driven, long-term plans for Lahaina that will include the potential to underground electric lines in the future.