Power’s out! Now what?
by Donna Mun | Sept. 5, 2019
It’s dinnertime. You just started cooking and placed something on the stove. Or you just finished dinner and you’re reclining on your couch after a long day of work, watching the latest episode of “Stranger Things.” Suddenly, the stove turns off or the television turns black. Yes, the entire house is out of power.
You decide to give it a few minutes and just maybe the power will suddenly come back on. Sometimes it does when it’s a quick power interruption, but ten minutes pass and nothing happens. You open your front door to find the streetlights out and your neighbor without power, too.
Most people assume that the utility knows they are out of power the minute it goes out. The meter at your home must send a signal to the utility, right?
Not just yet for most customers, but that technology is right around the corner as we move forward with our grid modernization efforts.
Back to our current situation. The power is still out, what should you do?
You can get on your phone to access social media and send us a message through Twitter or Facebook. Most times, there is a friendly social media specialist ready to answer to your inquiry. He or she may be able to let you know if we are aware of the outage and if a first responder has been dispatched to investigate the outage. If you try to reach us at 2 a.m. in the morning, chances are we may be sleeping.
The surest way to get your power restored is to report your outage immediately to any of our 24/7 trouble lines across Oahu, Maui County, and Hawaii Island. Oahu has an automated trouble line that allows you to report your outage using the phone number tied to your account and zip code. You can use an account number, but most customers don’t have this information memorized. If you currently don’t have a phone number associated to your account, it’s best to call our Customer Service Center at 548–7311 to add your phone number in case your power goes out. For Maui County and Hawaii Island, calling the trouble line with the exact address of the outage is the best course of action.
I experienced an outage recently on Oahu — right in the middle of watching TV. The first thing I did was pull out my phone, open my Hawaiian Electric mobile app and follow the steps to report an outage. Customers across the five islands we serve need to know that depending on where you live and where the nearest first responder is at the time of the outage, it takes time to drive over to your location and investigate the issue. Sometimes, it’s as simple as transferring customers from one circuit to another circuit to restore power. Other times, our crews need to replace a downed pole that may have resulted from a motor vehicle accident. This requires additional crew members and equipment and time to replace the actual pole with a new one before getting everyone safely back online. Whatever the situation, it can take longer than a few minutes for power to get restored, and we appreciate customers’ patience.
While you wait, use the time to decompress and pull yourself away from all the technology and electronics. And, be sure to turn off the stove. Visit a friend or go out for dinner to kill time. And if you’d like, send us a message on Twitter or Facebook. We’ll be more than happy to provide you with any information that we have.
Donna Mun is a director of digital communications at Hawaiian Electric Company.