Hawaiian Electric offers tips at the start of hurricane season
June 1, 2021, 5:28 p.m. HST
The 2021 Central Pacific hurricane season begins today and Hawaiian Electric is advising customers, both residential and commercial, to prepare and have contingency plans in place.
Hawaiian Electric teams work year round to strengthen the company’s five island networks so that they are better able to withstand the effects of powerful storms. One of the main thrusts of Hawaiian Electric’s efforts to build resilience is to strengthen poles, lines and other equipment. The utility also spent $ 18 million in 2020 to clean trees and vegetation around power lines and equipment, resulting in fewer and shorter outages during storms.
Forecasters predict two to five tropical cyclones for the central Pacific in 2021, an estimate that includes named tropical lows, storms and hurricanes. This 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 until November 30.
Hawaii Electric’s work to build resilience includes equipment upgrades as well as longer-term planning efforts that will benefit customers in the future. Here are some examples of the company’s ongoing resilience work:
- Approximately five miles of airline replacement on the north coast of O’ahu along the Kamehameha Highway near Hau’ula Beach Park to La’ie Beach Park, and along Kamehameha near Hukilau Beach Park to the Malaekahana State Recreation Area. The lines had to be replaced due to coastal corrosion.
- Organized five Koʻolaupoko Energy Working Group virtual workshops, engaging key community leaders to advance energy-related actions that will increase resilience along the Winward side of Waimānalo in Kualoa.
- Began working with national experts to identify areas of O’ahu that are optimal for micro-grid development to achieve a more resilient power grid as part of the Transition Initiative’s first partnership project Energy from the US Department of Energy.
- Maui and Moloka’i:
- Heavier insulated conductors have been installed in areas with high tree density to help prevent vegetation-related failures in areas prone to falling trees and branches during high winds and damaging the electrical equipment
- Improving the way electricity is distributed in the town of Lānaʻi to improve reliability, including converting a 4 kilovolt power line to 12 kilovolts. This is a standardized voltage across the island for more efficient distribution of energy.
- Island of Hawaii:
- Upgraded and relocated a 10 mile sub-transmission line in the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park area. The work was part of a collaboration to close a 22 mile gap in the island’s fiber optic loop and ensure a stable communications network for Internet and wireless customers, including first responders and schools .
To prepare for the hurricane season, customers can refer to the company’s Emergency Preparedness Manual. The manual and a keiki-specific booklet featuring Maka the safety superhero are available at hawaiianelectric.com/prepare. Printed copies of the manual can be picked up from public libraries in our service area and from City Mill stores in O’ahu. You can also call Hawaiian Electric at (808) 543-7511 for copies of the publications.
Residents should develop their own emergency plans and consider the following tips:
- Gather emergency supplies, such as a battery-powered radio, flashlights, lanterns, and batteries. Be prepared to monitor communications on emergency broadcast radio stations.
- Keep enough water, non-perishable foods, medicines, and personal hygiene products to keep your family members and pets last at least 14 days.
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical appliances and equipment during a thunderstorm or power outage. When the power returns and is stable, plug in the equipment one at a time.
- Turn off your electricity at the circuit breaker or main switch if you need to evacuate.
- Consider having a back-up generator if you are dependent on an electrically powered life support system. Or, plan to go to another location where electricity will be available. Be prepared to take your medical equipment and medications with you.
- If your business or residence has a back-up generator, learn how to use the device correctly to avoid causing damage or injury.
- Prepare a list of emergency contacts, including the phone numbers of insurance agents, suppliers, doctors, or anyone important.
- If you see a downed power line, assume it’s live and dangerous. Stay away from downed power lines – at least 30 feet or more (at least two car lengths).
- For updates and alerts, follow Hawaiian Electric on Twitter or through their free mobile app (available on the Apple App stores and Google Play).