Blackout affects 80 percent of Juneau

Posted: Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The combination of failures at the Snettisham line and Lake Dorothy project were responsible for a citywide blackout yesterday afternoon.

"It affected all of about 80 percent of the Juneau area," said Gayle Wood, director of consumer affairs at Alaska Electric Light and Power Co. "It's spotty ... Because we had the Lake Dorothy project on line and other small projects, like Annex Creek and Salmon Creek, we were able to hold some of the line."

Wood said there was a fault in the Snettisham line and a crew was sent to examine it. She said that crew didn't find any damage or anything in the line that revealed an obvious cause.

"They've determined that it was likely to be caused by transmission lines slapping together. The wind was coming from an unusual direction and that's the current theory," she said.

Since the power outage, the Lake Dorothy project has now gone offline as well, she said.

"I haven't heard what the reason was for that yet," she said. "It may relate to the line, it may not."

She said Lake Dorothy did serve portions of the community for about 20-25 minutes before that situation developed.

Wood said the outage occurred at approximately 11:50 a.m. and power was restored to most customers within 70 minutes. She said this was due to the aid of diesel generators.

"We're filling in with diesel at this point," Wood said. "I don't know if Lake Dorothy is back on line or not."

"At this point we're still on standby generation until the winds die down. We expect the winds to die later this evening and at some point we will return service to Snettisham line and turn off the diesels," she said Tuesday afternoon.

The city was prepared for such occurrences in Tuesday's elections. City deputy clerk Beth McEwen said the power outage didn't affect Tuesday's voting at all. She said there were contingency plans in place where people could put their ballots in emergency compartments at the polls. Those ballots would be calculated with the rest Tuesday night.

McEwen added the precincts had called and reported the power was not out long and had no effect on the polls.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or at jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

• Contact reporter Abby Lowell at 523-2271 or at abby.lowell@ juneauempire.com.



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