Categorized | Business, Energy, Featured

HELCO insulates poles against the lava flow heat

HELCO has place heat insulating materials around several wooden power poles that may be in the path of the Kilauea June 27th Lava Flow. Photo courtesy of HELCO.

HELCO has place heat insulating materials around several wooden power poles that may be in the path of the Kilauea June 27th Lava Flow. Photo courtesy of HELCO.

MEDIA RELEASE

Hawaii Electric Light is closely monitoring the progress of the Kilauea lava flow. There is no immediate threat to its facilities or power lines.

The company continues to work with Hawaii County Civil Defense and other agencies to monitor and evaluate the flow and is prepared to respond. Because of the unpredictable nature of the flow, Hawaii Electric Light has developed several plans to keep the power on and will put into action the plan that best fits the situation. The safety of employees and community is always the top priority.

“Our plans are based on key objectives that include keeping employees and the community safe and keeping the power on for our customers as long as is safely possible,” said spokesperson Rhea Lee. “In developing our plans, we consulted with volcanologists, Hawaii County Civil Defense and other County agencies, leaders in the Hawaiian community, and other partners.”

Plans include, but are not limited to:

  • Protecting power poles from the heat generated by the lava by partially encasing select wooden poles with heat resistant and dispersive material;
  • Increasing the distance between select power poles to span the lava flow;
  • Extending our distribution lines on Government Beach Road and other areas as an alternate means to provide power to Puna subdivisions should the normal power distribution lines become inoperable
  • Relocating generators to the Puna District to provide an alternate source of generation should the flow isolate the area from the island-wide power grid.

Last week, crews started work on Government Beach Road. In addition, pole protection prototypes were built in the Puna area.

“There is a lot of focus on protecting poles as a means to retain the current transmission and distribution system,” Lee said. “The designs developed are experimental, but we are hopeful that they will be successful and can be used on select wooden poles as the lava progresses.”

In addition, Hawaii Electric Light is exploring the possibility of operating a micro-grid in the event the lava flow isolates lower Puna from the power system.

“A micro-grid is disconnected from the utility grid and generates power for a specific area,” Lee said. “This option may allow us to continue to provide power to the lower Puna community until we are able to rebuild transmissions lines that are damaged by lava and interconnect these lines to the grid.”

However, outages may occur despite efforts to keep the power on for as long as possible. As the flow gets closer to our facilities, we will provide more specific information as to how customers could be impacted.

For customers who evacuate, the company recommends:

  • Shut off electricity at the main breaker or switch;
  • Unplug or turn off electric equipment and appliances;
  • Call Customer Service at 969-6999 to request a service disconnect or transfer.

Hawaii Electric Light’s free “Handbook for Emergency Preparedness” provides detailed information on preparing for emergency situations. The handbook is available in English, Cantonese, Ilocano, Korean, and Vietnamese and can be found at the company’s business offices, on its website www.hawaiielectriclight.com, or by calling 969-0137.

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