Hawaiian Electric working with state and county agencies to minimize risk, support public safety

Release Date: 8/31/2023

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KAHULUI, Aug. 31, 2023 – Hawaiian Electric is working closely with state and county agencies to minimize wildfire risk and support public safety on all the islands it serves. The company has been taking proactive steps to safely keep the lights on during the current Red Flag Warning for leeward areas of all islands.

As Hawaiian Electric continues to collaborate with the Hawaii Department of Defense and state and county emergency management officials, the company has stationed active monitors who are physically surveying electrical infrastructure in more than 30 areas identified as high wildfire risk in Maui County, on Hawaii Island and Oahu to help to ensure safe and reliable service.

As part of its ongoing mitigation efforts, the company continues trimming vegetation around lines, increasing inspections of poles and lines, and installing equipment to closely monitor lines. It also plans to disable automatic circuit reclose systems and will not reenergize lines that trip during high winds until they can be inspected. Some of these actions may result in extended outages for some customers. To report a downed line or power outage, call Hawaiian Electric at 1-855-304-1212. In an emergency, call 9-1-1.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) offers these tips to reduce the risk of wildfires:

  • Using extreme caution with flame or heat sources outdoors. Do not burn items outdoors and be careful when using power tools or garden equipment that could strike sparks from stones.
  • Never throwing cigarette butts or other burning items from a vehicle or into vegetation.
  • Never parking on dry grass or vegetation; vehicle exhaust systems quickly become hot enough to start a blaze.
  • Clearing dry vegetation and other flammable items away from around structures. The idea is to create at least 5 feet of “fire-free defensible space” around them to make it less likely that embers will spread a fire.
  • Making sure your roof and gutters are free of dead leaves and other fuel that could give fire an easy place to start.
  • Trimming tall vegetation around trees that could act as a “ladder” and allow flames to climb into the tree canopy and spread rapidly. Prune trees and shrubs near structures to create separation within the tree canopy.

Hawaiian Electric remains committed to working with state, county and community groups to support the recovery and help build a strong foundation for the future. It is working with emergency management officials and others on plans for keeping communities safe during weather events through the end of this hurricane season. Longer term, the company will work with these groups, as well as our regulators, owners of critical infrastructure, and a broad group of stakeholders, to create an action plan that is appropriate for the unique conditions in Hawaii.

A joint statement from Hawaiian Electric President and CEO Shelee Kimura, County of Maui Mayor Richard T. Bissen Jr. and Major General Kenneth S. Hara, Adjutant General, Department of Defense, State of Hawaii on Aug. 29 said: “The safety of Maui residents, businesses and visitors is the top priority of our government agencies and our dedicated state and county teams, supported by many partners in our community, including Hawaiian Electric. With high winds and severe drought conditions continuing to threaten parts of Maui, we are working together to minimize the risk of wildfire and ensure public safety.”