A brief power outage Thursday was caused by a crew error at the Swan Lake Hydroelectric Facility.
Ketchikan Public Utilities Electric Division operates the dam, but it’s owned by the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, or SEAPA.
KPU Electric Manager Andy Donato says that an engineer working for SEAPA was conducting some tests at the dam related to a new computer operating system. The engineer accidentally tripped the machine, and Donato says that knocked out power to pretty much the entire KPU system, starting at about 11 a.m.
Donato says KPU crews quickly fired up the diesel generators and started bringing areas back on line. The last customers had power back by about 12:10 p.m. Swan Lake was brought back on line by early afternoon.
Wrangell also experienced a power outage, lasting about 30 minutes, according to KSTK Radio. KFSK Radio in Petersburg reports that there wasn’t an outage there, but Steve Henson, operations manager for SEAPA, says the entire SEAPA system was affected, some areas more than others.
SEAPA provides power to Wrangell and Petersburg in addition to Ketchikan. The communities are linked through an intertie.
Henson says the engineer working on the system took precautions, but sometime things happen when working on a live system. Henson says they will try to plan better to make sure another outage doesn’t occur.
Donato says that KPU could switch Ketchikan to diesel generators during testing, so that any future errors would not affect the local system.