MECO prepares for hurricane season

Urges residents to do same for June 1 to Nov. 30 period

The Maui News

Maui Electric Co. continues to upgrade utility poles that can withstand stronger winds and to put in devices to better handle outages as hurricane season began June 1.

Forecasters have said up to eight tropical cyclones could develop this season, which runs through Nov. 30, the MECO news release late last month said.

All of the Hawaiian Electric Co. units on Oahu and Hawaii island and in Maui County work year-round to strengthen electric grids to better withstand powerful storms, the news release said. Much of that work centers around upgrading and reinforcing poles, lines and equipment and clearing vegetation.

Besides upgrading poles, MECO has a planned pilot installation of insulated power lines to reduce outages caused by falling trees and branches on conductors in forested areas of Upcountry and East Molokai and a planned installation of Trip-Savers, a new device on power lines that helps isolate and protect the electrical system during outages, in parts of Upcountry.

Residents can prepare for storms as well, and a “Handbook for Emergency Preparedness” is available at www.mauielectric.com/prepare, MECO business offices at Kahului and on Molokai and at county public libraries. Residents also may call 871-2304 to request copies while supplies last.

Hurricane-season preparations include:

• Gathering emergency supplies, such as a battery-powered radio, flashlights, lanterns and batteries. Be prepared to monitor storm-related communications issued over emergency broadcast radio stations.

• Storing enough water, nonperishable food, medicine and personal hygiene supplies for family members and pets to last at least 14 days.

• Turning off and unplugging all unnecessary electric appliances and equipment during a storm or a power outage. When power comes back on and is stable, plug in the equipment one at a time.

• Shutting off electricity at the main breaker or switch during evacuation.

• Considering having a backup generator dependent on an electrically powered life support system or making plans to go to an alternate location where electricity will be available. Be prepared to take medical equipment and medications.

• Learning how to properly operate a backup generator to avoid causing damage or injury.

• Preparing a list of emergency contacts that includes phone numbers for insurance agents, vendors, physicians or any other important individuals.

• Staying away from downed power lines by at least 30 feet or more. Assume that they are energized.

For power outage updates, follow Maui Electric on Twitter @MauiElectric or sign up for text or email notifications at www.mauielectric.com.