Electric service to approximately 1,500 customers was restored on Tuesday as crews continue to make progress on restoring power in the Puna District, according to Hawai'i Electric Light.
That leaves about 6,600 customers on the Big Island without power.
Power has been restored in Hamakua, Ainaloa, Orchidland Estates, and portions of Upper Puna, Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Paradise Park.
Approximately 200 workers have mobilized to work in the field on restoring power, including 22 electrical line crews, 14 tree trimming crews, and 25 construction crews contracted to dig holes for utility poles. An additional 40 crew members will be arriving, including crews from Maui Electric, Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative, and contracted companies.
With the additional workforce, crews have identified some previously unreported outages. In addition, more customers have called in outage reports. Currently, an estimated 6,600 customers are without power. This estimate includes the recently reported outages.
"With all of the additional help we've received, our crews are making steady progress and also identifying new problems we need to address. Our customers are also helping by serving as our eyes on the ground. We thank them for their patience and understanding. This really is a collective effort by our entire community to recover from this storm," said Darren Pai, Hawai'i Electric Light spokesman.
On Wednesday, electrical line crews expect to make progress in the following areas: Leilani Estates, Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and portions of Upper Puna. Crews also hope to make progress along the highway from Pahoa to Kalapana.
In addition, contracted tree trimming and construction crews are working to clear fallen trees, debris, and dig utility pole holes in Nanawale Estates, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and other areas throughout the Puna District. This work is needed to prepare the area for electrical line crews to set new poles and repair fallen power lines and other damaged equipment. Restoration progress may be impacted by access to due storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.
"We know there are customers in areas where they don’t see crews working. In many cases, we need to do additional work on the system away from their exact location in order to restore their power," Pai said.
There are pockets throughout the Puna district where the damage is so severe that customers should be prepared for an extended outage. Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage, and in some cases even longer. These estimates are still preliminary and actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.
Important safety information
As the restoration work progresses, Hawai'i Electric Light urges the public to remember these important safety tips:
• Do not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment.
• Do not approach any downed power lines, as they may have electricity running through them and can be dangerous. If you see someone injured by a downed power line, call 911 for assistance.
• Use generators outdoors and away from flammable materials. Generators connected directly to your home may feed excess electricity back into power lines, creating a public safety hazard. Plug appliances directly into your generator, using extension cords.
• Unplug unnecessary and sensitive electronic equipment. Use high-quality surge suppressors for electric appliances that remain plugged in.
• Use batteries to power flashlights and lanterns. Do not use candles or other flammable fuel sources, as they are fire hazards.
• Be aware of trees and utility poles that were weakened by storm winds and have the potential for falling.
Hawai'i Electric Light continues to operate its Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. Several hundred people have been visiting the center daily. Company representatives will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. Customers may bring their electronic devices and get them charged. A charging station will be available at the center. The center will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.