Fallen tree knocks out power line near Thane

After citywide outage, utility able to restore hydroelectric power

Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2010

A city-wide power outage Wednesday afternoon was caused by a tree falling into one of two large power lines near Thane Road, an Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. spokesperson said.

Power was out for an hour and ten minutes, but was restored shortly before 4 p.m., said Gayle Wood of AEL&P.

Wood said she is unsure what caused the tree to fall and it is not clear why the second line failed, but may have been related to the impact of the tree as well. The two lines that bring power to Juneau carry 69,000 volts each.

The utility had planned to switch to its backup diesel generators while searching for the outage by helicopter and road, but it ended up not being necessary. When power was restored, it was hydroelectric power, she said.

The mid-afternoon outage, following warming after a big snowfall, led to widespread fears of another Snettisham power outage. Twice in the last two years, including a year ago Tuesday, avalanches cut off Juneau from its primary power source and forced a switch to backup diesel generators.

Wood said AEL&P was initially worried that the outage could have been caused by an avalanche as well and had been trying to prevent that Tuesday.

"We did have avalanche control occurring in the area ... near Snettisham," she said.

"They were able to clean off a lot of the snow (Tuesday) at the higher elevations, so we are in pretty good shape," she said.

In addition, the Snettisham lines are not as vulnerable as they once were. One tower has been removed and another has been strengthened against future avalanches, Wood said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgeyat 523-2250 or e-mail patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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