Alaska editorial: Knowledge is power

This editorial first ran in the Anchorage Daily News:


Alaskans can handle it when the lights go out. But they don’t like being kept in the dark.

That’s the simple conclusion from the aftermath of last week’s wind storm that felled thousands of trees and left some Anchorage families out of power for four days or more.

Judging by letters to the editor and online comments, residents tempered angry complaints about insufficient information from their utilities with heartfelt gratitude for the long hours put in by utility workers to get homes and business up and running again.

More than one frustrated citizen said it wasn’t the outage than rankled as much as the lack of response.

Chugach Electric Association board chairwoman Janet Reiser said the utility is taking those complaints to heart and reviewing its response, with the aim of improving its collection of outage reports and getting information back to consumers.

That’s wise. Duration of the outages last week caught people by surprise. We’ve all been affected by power outages caused by wind storms, snowstorms or accidents. And we’re all used to the power coming back soon.

For thousands of residents last week, that wasn’t the case. Hours became days and neither power nor answers were forthcoming.

Lack of answers can be even more frustrating than lack of power. When folks know what they’re up against, they can deal with it — light candles, fire up generators, help one another. But when they don’t know how the long the problem is going to last — or even if the utility is aware that they’re still in the dark — that’s when anger rises.

Reasonable residents know that a widespread storm can strap a system of recovery, wearing parts and people down. What they need to know is that the utility knows their plight and is working on it.

We know there will be a next time. Chugach, Municipal Light and Power, Matanuska Electric Association and any other utility in the state should take note of what happened. To whatever extent possible, utilities should figure out how to communicate better. That’s not easy when some communications go down with the power, but that’s the challenge.

On the home front, we can take heart in all the neighborly work that saw people through damages and darkness. And those of us lacking the means to cover the recommended 72 hours of emergency self-reliance should act on the storm’s lesson.


  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback






Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:41

This election, vote yes on Prop 1, no on Prop 2

Attention to the upcoming City and Borough of Juneau election has mostly been focused on Assembly and School Board races. Two ballot propositions will also... Read more

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:40

Health care repeal would hurt Alaska youth

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski took a brave stand when she voted against the health care bill earlier this summer that would harm Alaskans by slashing... Read more

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:39

Rushing toward disaster for a win?

The senior senator from South Carolina lost patience with the bipartisan work being done on health care, so he hurriedly sketched another repeal without replace... Read more

Sun, 09/24/2017 - 21:38

Assembly’s decision on mining resolution disappointing

I am deeply disappointed in the Sept. 18 decision by the Juneau Assembly to put off a resolution asking for federal involvement in our transboundary... Read more