Resiliency Work in Action on Maui County

Hawaiian Electric
3 min readJul 31, 2023

by Makenna Anderson | July 31, 2023

Prior to recently joining the Hawaiian Electric team and more specifically the utility sector, I never realized how much goes into maintaining the resilience of the grid and, in general, its operation. We drive past our plants, substations, and poles daily but until you’re watching linemen climb 55- to 65-foot poles on a mountain ridge after being helicoptered in or standing on top of the roof of the control station at a switch yard in the process of being built, the task of maintaining a resilient, strong grid to ensure the lights stay on for all of us really doesn’t set in!

To reach our State’s 100% renewable energy by 2045 goals, Hawaiian Electric has placed resilience as a high priority in our work.

Throughout Maui County, work focusing on strengthening our grid has been occurring over the years through hundreds of pole replacements, power line and equipment upgrades, and overall maintenance of the electrical infrastructure. Such resiliency efforts make our island grids stronger so it can better withstand the severe weather events we are seeing more frequently and result in fewer or briefer outages.

While much of this work goes unseen by many, it is some of the most important we do as a company.

Last month, I was able to observe our line crew and their equipment dropped off on a ridge in Olowalu via helicopter to replace hardware on the poles supplying power to the westside of Maui. This West Maui resiliency work also includes upgrading poles and power lines is being done in phases. The new upgraded poles can withstand stronger wind gusts to enforce more reliability during severe weather events. In addition to other maintenance work, we’re aiming to finish this upgrade project by year’s end as part of our ongoing efforts to maintain safe and reliable service.

Another important focus of our resilience work is ensuring our grid can support the transition to powering our island with all renewable energy.

This includes the current construction of our Waena Switchyard along Pulehu Road. The switchyard, which resembles a substation, is part of Hawaiian Electric’s plans to retire its oil-firing generating units at the Kahului Power Plant (KPP).

Once the KPP generators are no longer online, the new switchyard is essential for transmission, collection, and controlling the flow of electricity from other renewable firm and as-available generation resources — making it a quintessential resiliency project in the transition to our State’s 2045 clean energy goals.

The exciting challenge of getting to 100% renewable energy by 2045 is something we work towards daily at Hawaiian Electric and its through such resiliency projects that focus on upgrading Maui’s infrastructure and increase our abilities to powering our islands with renewable energy, that we gain more and more traction towards this monumental goal.

I’m eager to continue being a part of all the new ways our company is challenging itself to meeting the energy needs of our islands with more renewable energy resources while continuing to provide resilient, steady service to all of our customers.

I’m also personally looking forward to experiencing more of the day-to-day of our linemen’s work — though preferably with my feet on the ground! It’s an electrifying task we collectively have, to be 100% renewable in nearly 20 years, but Hawaiian Electric is ready and working hard to be the catalyst for our community and lead this change.

Makenna Anderson is a public affairs specialist at Hawaiian Electric on Maui.



Hawaiian Electric

Established in 1891, Hawaiian Electric is committed to empowering its customers and communities by providing affordable, reliable, clean and sustainable energy.