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Recent Power Outages Caused by Heavy Equipment

With two outages in two days caused by operators of heavy equipment bringing down overhead power lines, Maui Electric urges customers to use caution when working near overhead and underground power lines.

On Tuesday, around 12:20 p.m., 286 customers on Moloka‘i experienced a power outage when a truck snagged utility lines, bringing down a utility pole and overhead lines near the Moloka‘i Landfill and Recycling Center. Most customers were restored by about 1 p.m. with one remaining customer brought back online just after 10 p.m.

Then today, at 8:23 a.m., an estimated 3,750 customers in the Wailuku, Waiehu and Waihee areas lost service for about 17 minutes when a construction worker using heavy equipment brought down overhead lines near Oma Oma Street in Wailuku. Upon isolating the downed lines, power was restored by 8:40 a.m.

Before digging near or around their homes or businesses, customers can also call the free, national phone number 811, to determine the location of underground utility lines and pipes.

“We should never take for granted the danger of overhead and underground power lines and always assume that they are energized,” said Bobby Motooka, safety director at Maui Electric. “Whether you’re out picking mangoes or planning to do some repairs at home or on the job, it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and stay clear of electrical lines and equipment.”

Other electrical safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Always look up and around for power lines before starting any work, such as fruit harvesting or trimming activity. If any part of the tree is touching overhead power lines, the tree could be energized so stay clear of the lines, the tree and anything in contact with them.
  • Use the 10-foot-rule: always keep your body and any ladders, tools or other implements at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines.
  • Don’t use metal ladders or metal fruit pickers near power lines and keep any type of ladders, fruit pickers, poles or other tools at least ten feet away from the lines.
  • Never trim trees that have power lines going through them or touch any tree limb that may fall into a power line. Only a professionally trained certified arborist should be used to trim and maintain trees near power lines.
  • If a person comes in contact with a power line, assume the line is energized and dangerous. Do not attempt to free the person from the power line. Stay clear and warn others to keep away. Call 911 immediately for emergency help.
  • If you see any object caught in a power line, assume the line is energized and do not attempt to free it yourself. Call Maui Electric’s Trouble Line at (808) 871-7777, toll-free for Moloka‘i or Lāna‘i at 1-877-871-8461, or call 911 in an emergency.

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