So that was some storm we had Friday night. Given that it was just a storm–not even close to a hurricane–what amazed me was that nearly 20,000 people lost power. And many lost power for days.
Here’s the first paragraph of a Maui Electric Company (MECO) news release that went out yesterday, Dec. 4:
Throughout today, Maui Electric crews continued restoration efforts in various parts of Maui when strong storm winds brought down numerous trees and debris onto electrical lines and wreaked havoc on Maui’s electrical system on Friday evening. Currently, less than 10% of the initial 19,588 customers who were affected by the storm-related outages remain without power in pockets of Maui, including remote areas of Upcountry and East Maui.
Remember, the storm hit on Jan. 2. That means many people Upcountry and in Hana had to go without power all weekend. Which, of course, MECO crews set about attempting to fix:
In Upcountry Maui, crews have been working nearly around the clock since late Friday night and into this evening in various areas, including the Piiholo and Olinda area, to bring customers back online. Crews are replacing and repairing numerous cracked utility poles, transformers and conductors that were extensively damaged during the storm. In some areas, crews are needing to remove large trees to access downed lines and electrical equipment as part of the restoration efforts.
This would seem to point to this weekend’s storm being some kind of freak. Yet MECO seems to lose power every time a chicken crosses the road. Seriously–power outages in Maui County, even when the weather is perfectly pleasant, seem to be completely normal. Here’s a list I put together of just the MECO outage alerts I received in December 2014:
• Dec. 14: Parts of East Molokai
• Dec. 16: Parts of Wailuku
• Dec. 18: Lanai
• Dec. 19: East end of Molokai/Parts of Kahului
• Dec. 21: Kualapuu on Molokai
• Dec. 28: Entire island of Molokai
• Dec. 30: East Molokai
For the most part, each of those outages ended after just a few hours. But is building a reliable grid for the county really that difficult? Maybe this is just something better left to Florida-based NextEra, which will soon take over MECO and Hawaiian Electric (HECO), assuming the state Public Utilities Commission approves the merger.