location-icon Enter location

Update Location

Keep your lights on during Hawaiian Electric’s planned wildfire prevention outages. - RevoluSun

Keep your lights on during Hawaiian Electric’s planned wildfire prevention outages.

About 48,000 Hawaiian Electric customers on four islands should prepare for power shutoffs under a new wildfire prevention effort.

Initial Phase Implementation

Starting July 1, the utility will implement the initial phase of its public safety power shutoff program. This phase affects about 24,800 customers on Maui, 19,300 on Hawaii Island, 2,700 on Oahu, and 1,300 on Molokai.

Coverage, Target Areas, and Expansion

Covering about 10% of the utility’s 472,000 residential and commercial customers, the program targets high wildfire risk areas such as West Maui, Central Maui, Upcountry Maui, West Oahu, and West Hawaii.

The program, developed in collaboration with public emergency response agencies, is expected to expand. Officials urge customers in coverage areas to prepare for outages caused by strong winds, low humidity, dry vegetation, and other conditions. Similar plans have been implemented in California and other wildfire-prone regions.

Response to Lahaina Wildfire and Shift in Approach

Hawaiian Electric developed this program in response to the devastating Aug. 8 wildfire in Lahaina, which killed 101 people and caused $5.6 billion in damage. Although the official cause is undetermined, many survivors claim a fallen Hawaiian Electric line sparked the fire.

Before the Lahaina fire, Hawaiian Electric had dismissed a power safety shutoff program, believing Hawaii was less prone to catastrophic wildfires compared to California. However, the lack of such a plan led to criticism after the disaster.

Factors Influencing Shutoffs and the Need for Preparedness

The program’s scope is based on factors such as fire history, wind data, vegetation levels, community proximity, and escape routes.

Shutoffs may not coincide with National Weather Service “red flag” warnings but will depend on factors like data from company weather stations. Wind speeds of 45 to 50 mph, combined with other conditions, may trigger shutoffs.

The future frequency and duration of shutoffs are unpredictable.

Due to potentially long outages, the utility and public safety officials advise customers to prepare, especially those relying on power for medical devices.

Why Solar Power and Battery Storage is Crucial

During outages, solar power with battery storage becomes crucial. Solar companies highlight the importance of solar energy plus storage as a reliable backup. Solar panels generate electricity during the day, while batteries store excess energy for use during power outages, ensuring homes and businesses stay powered.

Staying Informed

Customers should stay informed about public safety outage plans through the company’s mobile app, social media, website, and news media.

The importance of solar and storage solutions is evident during such events, providing a sustainable and independent power source, reducing grid reliance, and ensuring continued electricity access during extended outages.

Leave a Comment