Power outage darkens Valentine’s Day for 2,000 in Juneau

A broken insulator was the culprit behind a power outage that affected more than 2,000 Juneau residents on Valentine’s Day.

According to Alaska Electric Light and Power vice president Debbie Driscoll, the insulator was one supporting a high-voltage electrical transmission line north of the Mendenhall Valley. About 10:45 a.m., the broken insulator “caused the transmission line to drop into the distribution line. It then burned through,” Driscoll said.

AEL&P customers from Auke Lake northward through Auke Bay and districts Out the Road were without power for approximately four hours as line crews tried to fix the problem.

“This is an unusual outage in which it was a transmission line outage,” Driscoll said.

Transmission lines are the superhighways of any electrical grid; they carry power to substations, which pass electricity onto distribution lines that carry it to individual homes and businesses.

In a normal outage, Driscoll said, AEL&P tries to reroute power to shorten the outage. In this case, the time needed to reroute electricity was so long that it made more sense to simply repair the break.

“That’s why it took a little bit longer,” she said by phone.

AEL&P completed repairs about 2 p.m., the company said, and power was restored to all customers by 2:45 p.m.

“The system operated the way it was intended to,” Driscoll said.

According to figures released by AEL&P earlier this year, the average Juneauite was without power for only 94 minutes last year. That figure is well below the national average and was a record low in the company’s 125-year history.

Driscoll said Juneauites should remember to keep clear of any downed power lines they see, then notify AEL&P or the Juneau Police Department.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 523-2258.

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