Outages keep HEA crews busy: Heavy, wet snow knocks out power to 3,000 peninsula homes

Posted: Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The heavy, wet snow that blanketed the Kenai Peninsula on Tuesday also caused widespread power outages around the central peninsula.

"It's been a real challenge responding," said Joe Gallagher, spokesman for Homer Electric Association. "It's been a challenge just in sheer number of calls, but also the snow, being heavy and wet, it's creating difficulties for our crews to maneuver their equipment in and out to respond."

HEA crews were first dispatched into the field to restore power at 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Gallagher said that as of 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, about 800 homes were without power in the Kasilof area, from the intersection of Kalifornsky Beach Road and the Sterling Highway in Kasilof, to just before Skyview High School.

Approximately 1,300 homes in the Beaver Creek area, from Beaver Creek to Irons Avenue in Soldotna were also without power. There was also a third large power outage in the Nikiski area, around the South Miller Loop, Holt-Lamplight, and Halbouty Road areas.

In addition, Gallagher said, their were abnormally large numbers of calls from people reporting downed powerlines or powerlines with tree branches resting on them, many that caused fires.

"We've got dozens and dozens of locations reporting these kinds of incidents," he said.

By midday, further outages included about 480 homes in the Kasilof area, from Reflection Lake Road to just before Skyview High School, approximately 485 homes in the Knight Drive area in Soldotna, and roughly 108 homes in the Moose Range Meadows area off Funny River Road.

In Nikiski, there were approximately 500 homes in the South Miller Loop area and another 164 homes on Halbouty Road that were out of power.

By 2:30 p.m., Gallager said HEA was still combatting the situation.

"Basically, we're still holding steady," he said. "We've got, literally, in excess of 80 outages, from those affecting one person, to outages affecting more than 400."

By 4 p.m. Gallagher said there still were numerous people without power.

"We've still got roughly 1,000 people without power," he said, "but that's down from 3,000 which we've had over the course of the day in all, and all for different durations."

As of Clarion deadline on Tuesday, Gallagher said it would be difficult to say for certain when all power would be restored, since more wet weather was predicted into the evening.

"We're thinking we'll be working throughout the night and into tomorrow," he said. "Our success will be weather dependent."

Gallager warned people to stay away from any downed power line and report the downed line to HEA immediately.

"The lines are very dangerous and any contact with a power line can cause serious injury or death," he said.

Those without power can report the outage on HEA's outage hotline at 1-888-8OUTAGE.

Local radio stations typically provide updates on the restoration status.

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

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