Hawaiian Electric’s still on the job, but adjusting operations
by Shannon Tangonan | March 30, 2020
Hawaiian Electric crews are still on the job across the five islands we serve, many still out in the field. We’re allowed — even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s stay-at-home orders. Some customers have questioned why workers are still out, and a few people have yelled at them.
Electric utilities are exempt from the government lockdown because we provide an essential service. Check out this infographic: Energy is dead center.
I write this as I sit on my bed at 9 a.m., typing away on my laptop. I’m among the hundreds of Hawaiian Electric employees whose jobs don’t require us to be climbing or replacing utility poles, dispatching crews from our system operation control centers, or performing other critical work outside the comfort of our homes.
Hawaiian Electric is like every other business trying to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic. This situation is unlike any natural or man-made disaster that our company has endured. And we’re making tough decisions on a daily basis.
We’re adjusting our operations to make sure essential work continues, and the vital service you need from us is provided uninterrupted.
The coronavirus situation means some routine maintenance projects are being postponed while other work critical to public safety continues. Resilience projects that are difficult to reschedule will likely get done.
Through it all, our employees are wearing the proper personal protective equipment while on the job. They’re also practicing social distancing.
To protect our employees and the public, we’re pulling back some of our meter readers from the field. That means bills for some residential and commercial accounts will have to be estimated based on the account’s last month of usage. Ultimately, when full-scale meter reading resumes, customers will be charged accordingly for actual usage. You’ll only pay for what is used.
Our walk-in payment centers are closed indefinitely to comply with the lockdown and to protect both employees and customers.
We may be an essential service, but that doesn’t mean it’s business as usual. Decisions to send folks out in the field or keep them at home are not made lightly.
I know everyone is on edge. I know I am. So let’s just do our best to get through this and show each other a little more aloha.
Shannon Tangonan is a manager of external corporate communications at Hawaiian Electric Company.