A new shade of green

by Robert Yang | March 21, 2022

I’m sure you’ve seen our green Hawaiian Electric pad-mounted transformer boxes in residential neighborhoods or outside of commercial businesses. Their job is to step down high-voltage electricity to usable lower voltages so that it can safely power your lights, appliances and other devices.

Many of these transformer boxes have been in service for several years — so you’ll notice some wear and tear. Others have been vandalized by graffiti. However, customers should never paint them.

We’ve heard of residents, homeowner’s associations (HOA) and commercial customers trying to paint them on their own. But please let us handle it. It’s not that we don’t trust our customers to choose the correct shade of green. It’s all about safety.

The box is energized so it’s not a good idea for an untrained person to handle them. If handled incorrectly, someone could get shocked. We also don’t want anyone to damage the locks on the transformers, which would hinder crews if they needed to perform maintenance or repairs. And if you unintentionally paint over any high-voltage warning stickers, it could put somebody else in danger.

Transformer boxes also require an industrialized green paint that meets electrical fire-safety ratings. There’s a good chance the paint you bought from your local hardware store doesn’t meet these ratings. The special paint helps minimize the intensity of an electrical fire if one were to break out. If a customer unknowingly uses an oil-based paint on the box, it can cause any fire that may occur to be even more dangerous.

For general safety purposes, all customers should refrain from touching any boxes. Parents should also teach their children about the dangers of playing around a transformer box. Kids tend to designate our transformer boxes as “home base,” but it’s safer for home base to be somewhere else.

Our employees are trained to work on these transformer boxes — even if it just needs a paint job. If you see that one of our boxes has been tagged by vandals or needs a little TLC, the best thing to do is contact us.

Robert Yang is a digital communications and social media specialist at Hawaiian Electric.

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Hawaiian Electric

Established in 1891, Hawaiian Electric is committed to empowering its customers and communities by providing affordable, reliable, clean and sustainable energy.