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August 16, 2006 at 1:45pm

Swollen Susitna River takes down transmission tower; river travelers cautioned to watch for low wires

 Structure 20-6, June 5, 2005

Swollen Susitna River takes down transmission tower; river travelers cautioned to watch for low wires

Recent rains have caused the Susitna River to rise and erode its eastern bank at Dynamite Slough, toppling a tower supporting an electric transmission line. The 70-foot aluminum tower supported a 230,000-volt transmission line that carries power from Chugach's Beluga Power Plant. It is one of three transmission lines that moves power from Alaska's largest power plant for delivery throughout the Railbelt.

Structure 20-6, August 9, 2005

The structure apparently came down at 6:52 p.m. Tuesday evening. That is when dispatchers in Chugach's power control center noted the line had tripped out of service. The point at which the transmission lines cross the Susitna River is at a remote, uninhabited area on the west side of Cook Inlet about 30 air miles from Anchorage. A Chugach crew investigated and discovered the downed tower at about 9:30 p.m.

Although the line is de-energized, the three wires that carry electricity are still attached to the structure and are suspended a few feet above the Susitna River. Persons traveling the river are cautioned to watch for the low wires. Chugach notified both the Alaska State Troopers and the U. S. Coast Guard last night.

Structure 20-6, August 15, 2006

Chugach is mobilizing crews and equipment to move to the river today and begin cleanup and repair. Crews hope to separate the electrical line from the tower and raise them to a safer distance above the river.

Rains have been heavy in the Susitna River area in recent days. According to the National Weather Service, more than 2 inches of rain have fallen in the valley since Sunday morning.

While some customers reported seeing their lights blink when the tower went down, the other two transmission lines from plant were able to carry the load and no power outage resulted from the loss of the line. As a precaution, Chugach has reduced the output from the plant to maintain the stability of the regional power grid until the line can be repaired.

Chugach is the largest electric utility in Alaska, providing power for Alaskans throughout the Railbelt through retail, wholesale and economy energy sales.

For more information, contact Patti Bogan, 762-4736 (desk) 272-0704 (cell)