A tree took out power lines in Ketchikan’s Ward Cove area Tuesday morning, affecting power throughout Ketchikan and the Southeast Alaska Power Agency system. Power was fully restored in Ketchikan by mid-afternoon.
KPU Electric Division Manager Andy Donato said the tree came down just a few minutes before 7 a.m., and wiped out three spans of power lines. The tree also blocked traffic temporarily.
Donato said crews responded and cleared the tree for traffic to resume. Crews then restored power to various portions of the Ketchikan electric system.
The Ward Cove area, though, took a little longer, because of all the snapped lines.
“Those lines include the very highest ones there, which are the 115KV lines from SEAPA and then the subtransmission and distribution lines below those,” he said. “Most of those got wiped out by this tree.”
The initial estimate for restoring power to Ward Cove was by nightfall, if everything went well. But, Donato said, “Jeez, it turns out it went together a lot faster than we anticipated. (We) finished all the work and we’re now on the restoration schedule.”
At about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, KPU announced that all power had been restored in Ketchikan.
Ketchikan wasn’t the only community affected by the outage. When the tree took out the Southeast Alaska Power Agency lines, repercussions were felt all the way in Petersburg. That community lost its feed from Tyee Lake, and then had some trouble with its backup generators. Petersburg’s power outage lasted about two hours Tuesday morning.
Wrangell lost power for a short time, as well.
Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell are connected through SEAPA via an intertie that allows power to flow between Swan Lake and Tyee Lake. Swan Lake provides power primarily to Ketchikan, and Tyee mostly serves Petersburg and Wrangell.
The intertie allows SEAPA to use power from both lakes more efficiently. But, Donato said, there’s sometimes a downside.
“That’s the unfortunate part of an interconnected system, right? You end up with a phenomenon that rocks the boat at Beaver Falls and you end up tripping them off in Petersburg,” he said.
Donato thanked KPU customers for their patience, and for turning off lights and unplugging appliances to reduce the power load during repairs.
This report has been updated throughout.