Kasilof blackout: Community loses power for 12 hours

Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2009

There are minor power outages and then there is what occurred in the Cohoe Loop area on Sunday night, as a blackout lasting more than 12 hours left residents in the dark with freezers full of fish thawing and milk in the fridge souring.

"The outage began around 8:30 p.m. Sunday evening when a tree fell into a power line near Mile 125 of the Sterling Highway. The incident created a power outage from about three miles north of Ninilchik to the intersection of the Sterling Highway and Kalifornsky Beach Road, in Kasilof," according to Joe Gallagher, pubic relations coordinator for Homer Electric Association.

The power outage left almost 1,000 HEA members in the Kasilof, Clam Gulch and Cohoe Loop areas without power Sunday night and Monday morning, he said.

"HEA crews responded to the outage Sunday evening and began restoration efforts. The work was complicated by the fact that maintenance work is currently being done at the Kasilof substation and the system configuration was different from its usual design," Gallagher said.

The power to most of the area remained out until about 6 a.m. Monday morning, with the exception of the North Cohoe Loop area, which went without electricity several hours longer.

"There was a problem in the North Cohoe Loop area that required HEA crews to incrementally restore power to small sections one at a time, rather than bring it all back on line at once which is usually the procedure," Gallagher said.

HEA crews finished the Cohoe Loop restoration work at approximately 11 a.m. Monday morning, but later took power off-line, to create a better and more stable feed.

"This time it was planned, and was only off from 3:18 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.," Gallagher said.

In addition to the initial power outage, the tree that hit the power line Sunday evening also created a small fire, according to Gallagher.

"The fire was quickly extinguished by crews from Central Emergency Services on Sunday evening," he said.

Anyone who experiences an interruption of electric service is asked to follow a couple of simple steps including checking fuses or circuit breakers to be sure that there is not a problem in one's own home electrical system, and checking with neighbors to determine if they have electricity.

If it is determined the lack of electricity is not isolated, Gallagher said residents should report the outage to HEA by calling 1-888-8OUTAGE. An easy, step-by-step outage reporting system will prompt callers to input the telephone number of the outage location.

An automated system then matches the telephone number to an HEA database, which is one reason it is important to have a current telephone number on file with HEA. Callers will also be asked if power is out and if they do or do not know the cause of the outage, such as a tree on the line.

Callers can press the appropriate number on their phone, while those who do not have a touch-tone phone can stay on the line and leave a detailed voice message with their name, phone number and the outage location. The more detailed the message, the more helpful it may be in resolving the outage.

For more information, call HEA in Kenai at 283-5831.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.

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