Maui Electric and Lincoln Logs Join Forces for Power Pole Replacement Project


FEEL SAFER?: What appears to be duct tape holds together a couple of power line poles in Kihei this week.

In a bold public-private partnership to improve fire protection measures on island, Maui Electric Co., Ltd. has partnered with century-old construction toy company Lincoln Logs, officials said.

The joint agreement aims for Lincoln Logs manufacturer Pride Manufacturing of Maine to produce wood logs large enough to replace the ancient and dried out poles currently holding up all above-ground MECO power lines on island.

“We couldn’t quite get the shareholders to stop pulling out dividends so we could arrange the funding for this drastically needed infrastructure improvement project, so we thought outside the box as they say and worked a great deal good for the entire island,” said Rex Uila, spokesman for MECO, which is owned by parent company Hawaiian Electric.

Details are still being finalized, but the concept is for Pride Manufacturing to engineer the toy logs with their ¾-inch diameters to be replicated in huge wood logs that could be as wide as 2 feet in diameter ~ or more, if needed.

“We’re excited to work with MECO and the islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai to provide logs that we all know are very difficult to break,” said Jerry Harrision, vice president of marketing for Pride Manufacturing. "They will be long-lasting, and should help prevent wildfires and traffic jams caused by fallen old dried-out power line poles."

It is undetermined whether the real-life wide logs will include the notches well-known on the toys, but it’s not out of the question, Uila said.

“They could look really cool, if we could ensure engineering-wise that it wouldn’t compromise the strength of the logs,” Uila said.

It also would help MECO store extra logs more easily, by connecting them into life-size houses or forts and stuff, he said. “Ultimately if this proves effective, we foresee a huge demand for life-size Lincoln Logs to build more housing that is desperately needed on island.”

The negotiations began when the public became aware that dozens if not hundreds of power line poles snapped like twigs in the strong winds of Aug. 8 when a downed power line started a blaze that killed about 100 people and destroyed an estimated 2,200 dwellings in Lahaina. Many of the downed wood poles and their connected live wires prevented hundreds of motorists from evacuating Lahaina.

“We’ve known of the need to replace these dried out old wood poles since the big fire of 2018 that almost destroyed Lahaina then,” Uila said. “We just couldn’t get shareholders to agree to make the expenditures, since they were busy pulling dividends and paying for an expensive documentary on our green energy efforts that starred Sen. Brian Schatz and former President Barack Obama.”

Local Maui residents were optimistic yet skeptical of the plan.

“We were promised a lot after the big 2018 fire, and mostly what we got was to see Brian Schatz on local TV stations over and over and over again talking about all this green crap that we’re all supposed to look forward to,” said Loretta Kanalua, formerly of Lahaina who had to move to Haiku when her home burned down next to a downed power pole on Aug. 8.

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