Two power outages hit over weekend

Posted: Monday, August 27, 2001

Unrelated power outages around lunch time on Saturday and Sunday inconvenienced Juneau and forced motorists to maneuver through major intersections without the guidance of traffic lights.

"Dispatch tells me that they can't recall any wrecks," said Assistant Chief of Police Greg Browning. "The minor annoyance was that fire and burglar alarms will go off sometimes when the power goes off, so you have false alarms, but no big other problems."

Capital City Fire & Rescue confirmed a few false alarms and said it responded Saturday at 11:18 a.m. to smoke reported from the Alaska Electric Light & Power generator building at 1702 Douglas Highway. The smoke apparently was caused by the generator coming back on line. There was no damage.

The first power outage affected only downtown and Douglas Island. It lasted from 11:08 to 11:46 a.m. Saturday, said David Stone, spokesman for AEL&P.

"Apparently a bird caused it by getting on top of one of our transmission light switches. Birds landing is OK, but when they spread their wings to take off, it shorts out. The 69,000 volts probably killed him; there usually isn't much left," Stone said.

The second outage was areawide and occurred from 11:58 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

"That was a bad one because we couldn't figure out what was causing it," Stone said. "You have to be very cautious looking, because someone or a car could be on the line."

The outage took down the generator at the Snettisham hydroelectric facility, so the electrical system had to run on diesel, Stone added. He is unsure why the outage occurred, but engineers will talk to a jogger on Thane Road who reported "a loud bang and a crackling sound" near the A-J Mine rock dump.

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