Hawaiian Electric continues urgent restoration work in Lahaina 10 weeks after the devastating Aug. 8 wildfire. Work includes power restoration to remaining customers, and efforts to rebuild portions of the damaged electric system.
Company representatives say this is to ensure safe and reliable power to West Maui customers spanning from Olowalu to Kapalua.
By Aug. 25, Hawaiian Electric crews had completed repairs to bring over 95% of those Maui customers who were affected by outages in West Maui and Upcountry back online.
In September, Maui emergency management officials requested for Hawaiian Electric to begin rebuilding electrical infrastructure to serve critical customers in and around Lahaina. This work enabled power to be restored to wastewater pumps, traffic signals and telecommunication services.
Currently, crews are continuing repairs to restore an approximate 300 remaining customers in Lahaina, including the Wahikuli area. In the last two weeks, with more areas being cleared for re-entry by emergency response officials, crews restored power to about 350 customers in the Kahoma Village, parts of Puamana and Upper Kapunakea area.
Other rebuilding work includes the construction of approximately 600 feet of underground electrical infrastructure to support the installation of a substation transformer at the company’s Lahainaluna Substation mauka of the Lahaina Bypass along Lahainaluna Road. This work helps to improve service reliability to the neighborhoods in Lahainaluna, Puamana, and Launiupoko to Olowalu area, as these areas were formerly supported by the Lahaina Substation, which was destroyed during the wildfires.
Customers in these areas are currently being served by two temporary mobile substations that were installed in late August as part of ongoing restoration efforts. Once the undergrounding and installation of the new transformer at the Lahainaluna Substation is complete, it will allow for the removal of one of the temporary mobile substations, according to the company.
Additional efforts involve restoring a third transmission line along its former route through Lahaina town with the installation of new interim poles and electrical equipment. This temporary overhead infrastructure aids service reliability, as this transmission line provides a backup route of power to West Maui, including neighborhoods in Puʻukoliʻi, Māhinahina, Nāpili, Kā‘anapali, and Kapalua.
Until the repairs of this third transmission line are complete – anticipated to be completed in the first quarter of 2024 – West Maui customers may experience extended outages because power cannot currently be rerouted from another circuit. Company representatives say this would not preclude the possibility of underground utilities in the future as long-term, community-driven plans are developed.