Strong Winds Cause Havoc in South Central Alaska

January 07, 2016

By Peter Scott - Power Protection Contributor

It wasn’t the best ending to the year for residents of south central Alaska; strong winds swept through the state, toppling trees and downing power lines. Residents and businesses throughout the region were affected, with power utilities scrambling to try to restore power by New Year’s Eve.

The Chugach Electric Association’s online outage map showed about 1,800 customers without power as of 7:30 a.m. on December 30th, according to the Alaska Dispatch News.

“They’re primarily along the Anchorage Hillside, but we’ve got outages throughout our service area from the Anchorage Bowl to Tyonek and Cooper Landing,” said Phil Steyer, spokesman for the Chugach Electric Association.

The actual number of sites affected by the outage was greater than 2,000, according to Steyer, but roughly 3,000 customers already had power restored thanks to new meters that automatically signal when there is an outage, speeding up the recovery process.

“In that case, those meters tell us when they’re out of power on their own,” Steyer said.

Municipal Light and Power in East Anchorage also reported outages, and the Matanuska Electric Association’s Facebook (News - Alert) page indicated another 300 customers were lacking power. Matanuska Electric Association spokeswoman Julie Estey said trees blown down on power lines were the likely cause.

“We are throwing everything we have at restoring power,” she said.

Whether in Alaska or elsewhere in the U.S., power outages can strike year-round. All it takes is the downing of a tree or an electrical wiring issue to plunge a business into darkness.

At the same time, a prolonged outage such that being experienced in Alaska can have major ramifications business. Orders can be delayed, staff productivity can be affected, materials wasted (in the case of restaurants), and sales lost.

Businesses can help protect themselves against unexpected outages with uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) from companies such as Minuteman Power. A UPS can provide critical backup power during an outage, enough time for a business to collect files for working from another site or remotely. It also can allow a business to properly shut down computer systems and file servers, equipment that can be damaged during a sudden power outage.

It isn’t possible to predict when a power outage will occur—but smart businesses can be prepared for the unexpected.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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