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Wednesday, July 3, 2024
Blangiardi: Be Prepared for Blackouts
By News Release @ 1:33 AM :: 1019 Views :: Energy

Mayor Urges Readiness as Hawaiian Electric Launches Public Safety Power Shutoff Program (PSPS)

News release from Office of the Mayor, July 1, 2024

HONOLULU – Mayor Rick Blangiardi is urging O‘ahu residents to be prepared as Hawaiian Electric implements its new Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) program, starting today, July 1, 2024. This initiative may result in preemptive power shutoffs in areas identified as high risk for wildfires during periods of forecasted high winds and dry conditions.

“This initiative by Hawaiian Electric represents a crucial step in safeguarding our communities from the growing threat of wildfires,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “We understand that power shutoffs can be challenging for residents, but they are essential to protect lives and property. We encourage everyone to take necessary precautions that we recommend and be ready for potential outages.”

Key Details of Hawaiian Electric’s PSPS Program:

  • Effective Date: July 1, 2024. The program goes into effect on July 1, but pre-emptive power shutdowns will only happen under extreme weather conditions.
  • Objective: To prevent wildfires by shutting off power in high-risk areas during extreme weather conditions.

Potentially Affected Areas:

  • Oʻahu: Waiʻanae, Mākaha, Nānākuli, Māʻili, and Ka‘ena Point (approx. 2,700 customers)

PSPS Activation Criteria:

Power shutoffs will be considered if weather data, including statements from the National Weather Service, indicate conditions conducive to wildfires, such as strong winds, low humidity, and dry vegetation.

Hawaiian Electric will notify the public in advance of a PSPS through news releases, social media, online outage maps, and updates to its website. However, shutoffs may occur with little or no notice if conditions change suddenly.

Preparations and Recommendations:

Residents should prepare for extended outages that could last several hours to days by having emergency supplies such as food, water, and medications.

Customers with medical needs that rely on power should submit their contact information to Hawaiian Electric using the online Medical Needs Communications Form at hawaiianelectric.com/PSPS to receive advance notifications.

Hawaiian Electric will collaborate with government officials, emergency response agencies, and essential service providers to minimize the impact of the PSPS and ensure public safety.

Post-PSPS Procedures:

After a PSPS event, power restoration will only occur once weather conditions improve and Hawaiian Electric has inspected power lines and repaired any damage. Depending on the severity of the damage and location, this may involve extended outages.

PSPS Contacts:

  • PSPS Website: hawaiianelectric.com/psps
  • PSPS Hotline: 1 (844) 483-8666 (Toll Free)
  • HECO Main Phone: (808) 548-7311 (O‘ahu)

Further Information:

Residents can obtain more details and view updated maps by clicking here.

—PAU---  

Hawaiian Electric launches new searchable maps for Public Safety Power Shutoff program

News Release from HEI, 7/1/2024

HONOLULU, July 1, 2024 – Hawaiian Electric customers can now use a new online search feature to determine if their address is within the high-risk wildfire areas within the company’s Public Safety Power Shutoff program (PSPS.) The new search feature can be found on the company’s website at: hawaiianelectric.com/pspsmaps.

In a PSPS, to help keep the public safe, Hawaiian Electric will preemptively shut off power to high-risk areas in the event of extreme weather conditions. Customers are urged to prepare for emergencies and the possibility of extended power outages during periods of high winds and dry conditions.

“These improved maps were among the most requested features that came up during our meetings with communities to talk about the PSPS program, so we worked hard to provide it as soon as possible. We hope this new search feature will help people make their own preparations,” said Jim Kelly, Hawaiian Electric vice president, government and community relations and corporate communications.

The searchable map will display results for addresses so a customer can determine if they are located in or nearby areas covered by the PSPS program. Due to the unpredictable nature of the weather and other hazardous conditions, Hawaiian Electric advises customers who are near a PSPS zone to also make preparations.

The company is continuing to make refinements to the online maps and while it has made every effort at accuracy, it’s possible the borders of some PSPS areas are not exact.

“Anyone who is close to a PSPS area on the map should play it safe and be prepared, even though their address may not be included,” Kelly said.

These initial areas identified as high risk have a combination of risk factors for wildfires, including exposure to strong winds, dry conditions, vegetation prone to wildfires, and historically higher rates of wildfires. Over time, Hawaiian Electric will expand this program to all high-risk areas on the islands that it serves. For more information and maps, call Hawaiian Electric’s PSPS hotline at 1-844-483-8666 toll-free or go to hawaiianelectric.com/PSPS.

A PSPS will only be activated in an area if weather data, including statements from the National Weather Service, indicate conditions for heightened wildfire risk. These conditions may include strong winds, low humidity and dry vegetation. Combined, these factors can result in downed trees or flying debris contacting power lines and damaging electrical infrastructure, which can create the risk of wildfires.

Before activating a PSPS, Hawaiian Electric will notify the public and coordinate with government officials, first responders and emergency response agencies. Hawaiian Electric will provide public notifications through news releases, social media, online outage maps and updates to its website. If weather conditions change suddenly, shutoff may occur with little or no notice.

During a PSPS activation, power will remain shut off so long as hazardous weather conditions persist. When the weather improves, power lines must be inspected and any damage must be repaired before service can be restored. This may involve ground crews and aerial inspections using helicopters and drones. This process may result in extended outages lasting several hours, possibly even days depending on the location and extent of any damage.

Shutting off power, even to reduce wildfire risks, has broad impacts across the community. Hawaiian Electric has coordinated with stakeholders from across government and the private sector, including emergency response agencies, government officials, essential service providers and businesses, to ensure public awareness and safety during a PSPS activation.

Customers on life support with special medical needs are urged to prepare now for the possibility of extended power outages. Hawaiian Electric asks those customers to provide their contact information to receive future notifications in advance of a PSPS by submitting an online Medical Needs Communications Form at hawaiianelectric.com/PSPS.

HPR: HECO's Public Safety Power Shutoff program begins, leaving residents to question preparation 

HNN: Those dependent on powered medical devices urged to plan for HECO outages (hawaiinewsnow.com)

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