Power restored to all but ‘a handful’ of Leilani customers

Nearly a month after the mandatory evacuation zone in Leilani Estates was lifted, Hawaii Electric Light Co. has restored power to nearly all active Leilani Estates customers.

HELCO spokeswoman Rhea Lee-Moku said Monday that as of last week, all customers who requested power be restored to their homes were successfully reconnected to HELCO’s service, save for some exceptions where damaged equipment still needs to be replaced.

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“I think we’ve made very good progress,” Lee-Moku said.

Although the mandatory evacuation zone was only lifted in early September, Lee-Moku said HELCO was able to conduct assessments before then with county approval. Because of that, HELCO was able to quickly remove damaged equipment and repair the subdivision’s distribution system, installing new poles, lines and anchors.

Thanks to that preparatory work, Lee-Moku said HELCO was ready to start reconnecting customers by Sept. 17 and, since then, has successfully reconnected all but “a handful” of customers. Those properties that have not had power restored either still have damaged equipment, were destroyed or isolated by lava or have not requested to be reconnected.

Lee-Moku said HELCO turned off all main breakers at residences during its assessment, meaning power will not be restored to homes unless their owner requests it.

Outside of Leilani Estates, Lee-Moku said lingering damage to the power grid is generally confined to areas that remain inaccessible because of lava. For example, power to Pohoiki remains disconnected because Highway 137 is still blocked by lava. Otherwise, areas that were not directly impacted by the lava flows still have access to electricity.

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Lee-Moku advised Leilani residents still without power or experiencing problems with their power to contact HELCO’s customer service line at (808) 969-6999.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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