Power outage strikes retailers

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2001

Electrical power was out to 7,134 households, including homes in the Mendenhall Valley and neighborhoods out Glacier Highway, for an hour during dinnertime on Wednesday.

Lillian Harris, owner/partner of DeHart's Auke Bay Store, said her business made do.

"We stayed open. We had to use a calculator and our heads. It was kind of busy," she said.

The cause of the outage was "a 'potential transformer' - a piece of equipment that connects to our 60,000-volt power line that failed or blew out," said Peter Bibb, general manager of Alaska Electric Light & Power.

"When it did that, it created a fault. Our monitoring equipment saw it as something bad for the system and it opened up the power from Lemon Creek on out the road," Bibb said. As a result, three of Juneau's 10 electrical substations were out of commission.

AEL&P received the report about 6 p.m.

"Someone heard a loud boom right beyond Don Abel and called it in. Crews found it and made the necessary repairs after they had disconnected it from the system," Bibb said.

Reconnecting power took about an hour. Both the Nugget Mall and Mendenhall Center had to close because of darkness, along with inoperable cash registers and automatic doors.

Doug White, general manager of Don Abel Building Supplies, said he had to drive quickly back to work.

"Our battery backups last only about 20 minutes, so you have to react very quickly so you won't have improper shutdowns and lost memory. It took a couple of hours to get it straightened out. But that's typical for power-outs," White said.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com.

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