HILO, Hawaii - Hawaii Electric Light warns residents that falling ash on insulators and utility equipment may cause extended power interruptions due to Halemaumau explosions.

“A combination of a light dusting of ash and moisture on utility insulators could result in electrical short circuits, which could cause power interruptions,” warned Rhea Lee-Moku, spokesperson for Hawaii Electric Light. “If this occurs, we are prepared to respond once it is safe for employees to work in the impacted area. While we have equipment that can wash off ash from utility equipment, this is the first experience we will have with widespread volcanic ash.”

Depending on the density of the ash fallout and the area it covers, damage could be caused to utility equipment.  Hawaii Electric Light recommends customers experiencing a power interruption to do the following:

  • Unplug electronic equipment and other electric appliances
  • Keep doors to your freezer and refrigerator closed as much as possible, food can stay cold in the refrigerator for up to six hours if the door is kept closed, and one to three days in the freezer-depending on how full it is.
  • Make prior arrangements with a hospital or emergency facility is you are dependent on life support

Monday, one pole on Pohoiki Road cracked and fell.  Though it was in a previously de-energized area, it shows the caution residents should take, even in areas where eruption activity has subsided.

A total of about 400 customers in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens are without power. No additional outages have been caused by new fissures that opened in the last 24 hours.

Steam, seismic activity and cracking pavement can affect the stability of poles and electrical equipment. It is recommended to stay at least three cars lengths away from downed lines.

While residents will see workers in the area, workers will not make repairs or re-energize any circuits while volcanic activity continues.

With the shutdown of the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, Hawaii Electric Light still has sufficient power generation available to meet the island’s needs.