Torn limb from limb

If it seems like there have been a lot more power outages since Thanksgiving than in a normal early winter, you’re right, there have been. Today alone, MECO reports outages in Molokai and Lahaina; and yesterday there were more power failures Upcountry.

Some of this is unavoidable. When winter comes, rain returns and salt spray that has built up deposits on insulators during the dry season (even, sometimes, well away from the ocean) becomes wet and “flashes over.” A program of washing down insulators can help but has never entirely eliminated this source of power outages.

Most outages this year, though, apparently are from falling limbs. Some of this is beyond MECO’s control. Today the county closed Piiholo Road because eucalyptus trees had blown down across the road.

However, MECO used to have an aggressive program to identify which trees would, within the next five years, grow big enough to be vulnerable to winds and likely to interfere with power lines. Lumberjacks went out and preemptively removed and reduced those trees.

It looks like MECO needs to ramp up that preventive maintenance.