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Hawaii News

HECO expects Lane will prompt power outages

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RevoluSun, a local solar company, recommends calling your installer if you think there’s a problem with your photovoltaic system.


That will likely become reality for many in Hawaii as Hurricane Lane triggers power outages, the Hawaiian Electric companies warned Wednesday as they urged customers to prepare.

In the event of outages, Hawaiian Electric will not dispatch repair crews until after the storm passes and conditions are safe, it said in a news release.

As was the case with Iselle on Hawaii island, it could take weeks to restore service.

Hawaiian Electric also warned about downed power lines and the need to stay at least 30 feet away because they may have electricity running through them.

For those worried about having their rooftop solar systems damaged by high wind, RevoluSun, a local solar company, said the systems are generally rated to withstand at least 105 mph winds.

RevoluSun discourages customers from getting on their roofs before a hurricane to secure their solar panels. But some homeowners may want to tighten any loose bolts on the racking.

For solar panel systems connected to batteries, the system will automatically switch off-grid, and the user will be able to use the power saved to the batteries, RevoluSun CEO Josh Powell said.

Solar systems without batteries may automatically turn off if there is a power surge, RevoluSun says.

“What we recommend for your PV (photovoltaic) system is you ride it out,” Powell said. “If you think there’s been a problem or damage, call your installer. If you think it’s serious damage or arcing, call the fire department or HECO.”

Some solar systems without batteries have an outlet plug attached to the inverter which gives them the ability to operate off-grid while the sun is shining. Those systems could power a small refrigerator, charge a cell phone or a laptop.

Those with solar water heaters should turn off the breaker in their electrical panel for the water heater, Haleakala Solar said. Otherwise if someone uses the water or the water drains, the inverter could be damaged when the power company re-energizes the grid.