Overnight outage affects 7,000 HEA members
There were a couple of bright spots to the substantial power outage affecting the Soldotna area last night. If you lost power, you were in good company. Homer Electric Association reports about 7,000 members in Soldotna and the surrounding area lost electricity around 10 p.m.
HEA Director of Member Relations Keriann Baker said HEA was prepared with additional linemen on call in preparation for outages.
“We just got, I don’t know, 35 outages in 30 minutes? And it was just boom, boom, boom, boom, boom — there were so many of them, with the wind,” Baker said. “And we were already prepared. We looked at the weather, we’d seen what had happened in Fairbanks and Anchorage, so we knew it was going to be a bumpy night. So we already had a ton of our linemen on standby.”
Baker said linemen were sent from Homer up to Kenai ahead of the forecasted windstorm. As soon as the outages occurred, the crews were dispatched to get to work.
It’s been a disjointed winter, weather-wise — from cold snaps down to double-digits below zero, to hefty dumps or snow, now this week’s warmup and icing conditions. Heavy snow can cause problems but it’s wind that really wreaks havoc on the power grid.
“Oh, 100 percent, yeah. I mean, we had trees on the line and lines down all over the place,” Baker said. “So we have our right-of-way that we clear and we’re pretty fastidious about doing that. We’re required by law to clear the trees that could fall into our line. But when it’s windy, trees from outside the right-of-way get blown onto our line. Or even our poles, they hit something. We had multiple areas last night where we had lines that just came down.”
By 5 a.m., crews had restored the vast majority of outages. But, with temperatures right around freezing, an all-night outage isn’t as hazardous as in single digits or below. Baker said cold, itself, doesn’t pose a threat to electrical infrastructure, but it does light a fire to get outages restored.
“Those kind of things really keep us up at night,” Baker said. “We do not want that kind of cold weather without power for our members.”
Baker said HEA is not expecting additional outages in the immediate future, given the wind forecast has subsided. Saturday night through Monday, though, could be breezy again, along the western coast of the peninsula, with gusts up to 50 miles per hour in Nikiski and in the 40s in Anchor Point and Homer. As always, Baker cautions people not to approach downed power lines.
Report outages by calling HEA at (888) 868-8243. HEA maintains an outage map on its website, so you can see if an outage at your location has already been recorded. That’s at outage.homerelectric.com/OMSWebMap.