Petersburg Pilot -

Downed tree causes three communities to lose power


Petersburg power went out Tuesday morning after a rotten tree fell into lines in Ketchikan.

“Our outage resulted from a large tree in the Ketchikan lines, which took down the whole SEAPA transmission system,” Petersburg Power and Light Superintendent Joe Nelson said.

Ketchikan Public Utilities electric division manager Andrew Donato said the tree hit a point where the Southeast Alaska Power Agency line comes into Ketchikan.

“These power lines contained, at the very top, SEAPA 115 KV lines followed by our sub transmission followed by our distribution followed by our telecommunication line,” Donato said. “The tree basically wiped out all of that. That started the party.”

SEAPA’s Tyee Hydro Electric Dam delivers power to Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg and the tree that fell in Ketchikan disrupted power to each of those communities.

“The issue is when the power line came down it created faults on the line that are sensed by relay protection and that basically disconnected the generators from transmission and that’s what caused all the problems,” Donato said.

KPU staff including three bucket trucks, nine guys and a lot of supplies got power back to some of its customers in about an hour and a half and completely restored power by 2:30 that afternoon.

“I’m very happy we were able to restore the fall and happy everybody can be tolerant for these kinds of issues since we’re all tied together,” Donato said.

In Petersburg, when Power and Light switched to diesel generators an equipment failure lengthened the time of the outage in town.

“When we were coming back on in diesels we had a circuit breaker failure in one of our generators, which took the first attempt to restore power down,” Nelson said. “In a sense some people saw two outages. Instead of being back on in 45 minutes to an hour it was more like two hours by the time we corrected our issues.”


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