Maui News

Metallic Balloon Causes Power Surge, Loss of Power in Kīhei

September 29, 2015, 4:56 PM HST
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MECO outage attributed to mylar balloons. Maui Now graphic. Background file image credit: UHMC.

MECO outage attributed to mylar balloons. Maui Now graphic. Background file image credit: UHMC.

By Wendy Osher

A metallic “mylar” balloon that drifted into power lines has been identified as the cause of a South Maui power surge that knocked out electricity to an estimated 6,000 customers shortly before noon on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015.

Maui Electric Company spokesperson Kauʻi Awai-Dickson said the balloon drifted into Maui Electric power lines on Namauʻu Place in Kīhei, tripping both the transmission and distribution lines in this area.

As a result, thousands of customers experienced loss of electrical service and power surges.

“Maui Electric transferred affected customers to alternate circuits, restoring power at 12:20 p.m. to most customers as crews worked to replace damaged equipment,” said Awai-Dickson.

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Company representatives say metallic balloons can wreak havoc on the electrical system when they come into contact with power lines.

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The company traditionally issues advisories around graduation season to remind the public about the scenarios, such as this one, that can occur if metallic balloons filled with helium get loose and float away.

The company advises the public to weigh down metallic balloons to ensure they are kept away from power lines.

The public can report such incidents to the company’s trouble line by calling (808) 871-7777 or 911 in an emergency.

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