Hurricane season is upon us – are you prepared?

Hawaiian Electric hardens grids with equipment upgrades, tree trimming

Release Date: 6/1/2022

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HONOLULU, June 1, 2022 - The 2022 Central Pacific hurricane season starts today and could bring as many as four tropical cyclones over the next six months. Hawaiian Electric is advising customers, both residential and commercial, to make sure they are prepared and have emergency plans in place.

Hawaiian Electric crews work year-round to harden the company’s five island grids so they are better able to withstand the effects of powerful storms. A major focus of Hawaiian Electric’s efforts to build resilience involves reinforcing poles, lines, and other equipment. The utility also spent $18.5 million in 2021 to clear trees and vegetation from around power lines and equipment, resulting in fewer and briefer outages during storms.

Forecasters are predicting two to four tropical cyclones for the Central Pacific in 2022, an estimate that includes tropical depressions, named storms and hurricanes. That compares to a normal season with a range of four or five tropical cyclones, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hurricane season runs through Nov. 30.

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:
    • Improving system reliability in Windward Oahu with the replacement of a transmission tower with three new steel poles. Crews also transferred high-voltage transmission lines that cut across H-3 freeway to the new steel poles.
    • Clearing vegetation and upgrading poles, power lines and equipment in upper Palolo Valley. The company worked with residents to de-energize power lines so several large albizia trees could be removed along Lai Road.
  • Maui County:
    • Replacing more than 400 poles on Maui, Lanai and Molokai to maintain strength and safety standards based on inspections and testing.
    • Installing more than 60 grid-protection devices on Maui to help prevent outages and limit service interruptions to a smaller number of customers.
    • Installing weather stations at targeted West Maui facilities to actively assess drier and hotter weather patterns contributing to longer wildfire seasons produced by climate change.
  • Hawaii Island:
    • Developing a microgrid, supported by a battery energy storage system, to improve reliability and resilience in North Kohala. It would allow the company to serve the area while the existing radial sub-transmission line is rebuilt and when the line is affected by unplanned or planned events like storms or overnight maintenance and upgrade work.

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 after July 1.

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).