Crews set to restore power to much Hawaii's Lanai Island

AP News
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Posted: Jan 24, 2017 4:03 AM
Crews set to restore power to much Hawaii's Lanai Island

HONOLULU (AP) — Crews were on track to restore power to most of the residents of Hawaii's Lanai Island late Monday night, but people living in one small town will likely go without power overnight, Maui Electric Co. said.

The entire Hawaiian island of Lanai lost electrical service after strong winds snapped or damaged utility poles over the weekend.

The utility said that crews are expected to reconnect 1,575 Lanai City customers to electricity, but 125 customers in the Manele area will likely go without power.

Maui Electric said crews were working to repair 19 utility poles on the 141-square-mile island where about 3,000 people live. Billionaire Larry Ellison purchased 98 percent of Lanai in 2012.

The repairs involve replacing all of the 19 damaged 45-to-50 foot tall poles, resetting new ones and then restringing about a mile of lines along Kaumalapau Highway to Miki Basin and cross-country to Manele Bay, the company said.

Windstorm damage across the state was the most extensive in years, knocking out power to thousands of people, said Hawaiian Electric, the parent company of Maui Electric.

Lanai lost electricity and telephone service Saturday night, said Maui County spokesman Rod Antone. Cellphone service was spotty, he said.

The county was working on getting information to Lanai's residents, he said.

"We're pretty much in the dark here. We're getting limited information," said Lanai resident Matt Kawasaki. "Everything that we hear is pretty much by word of mouth right now."

The island's three main stores were open thanks to generator power and served as gathering places for residents, Kawasaki said, speaking from a cellphone he's been charging through his car.

Lanai High and Elementary School will be in session on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Hawaii's education department said.

Donalyn Dela Cruz, however, said parents should "feed their children breakfast as the school is unable to serve breakfast meals tomorrow. The school will be serving a modified lunch."

Kawasaki said residents were bracing for a third night without power.

"A lot of people have been barbecuing," taking advantage of plentiful kiawe wood, he said. But they're worried about perishable food spoiling.

"We have a tight community," he said. "We're doing OK. We're just worried that it will go for an extended time."

There are two large, luxury hotels on Lanai, formerly known for its pineapple crop. Four Seasons Resort Lanai was open and operating — but the main phone line was down — while The Lodge at Koele is closed for renovations, a Four Seasons spokeswoman said.

Ellison purchased the island with a vision of sustainability. Part of that vision involves a future powered by solar energy, according to the website for Pulama Lanai, his management company on the island. A spokeswoman referred questions to the Maui Electric utility.

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