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October 10, 2008 at 1:14pm

Strong winds leave thousands without power

Strong winds have caused power outages for thousands of Chugach Electric Association customers this morning. The largest outages have been on the Anchorage Hillside, but smaller outages have been reported in other parts of town and south onto the Kenai Peninsula.

Customers began reporting outages after about 3 a.m. as the winds began picking up. At about 7:15 a.m., more than 16,000 customers lost power after a 34,500-volt subtransmission line feeding power to four neighborhood substations in southeast Anchorage tripped off line. Chugach was able to reroute power to those substations within about 15 minutes, but many customers served by those substations and others remain out of power due to problems between the substations and their homes or businesses.

As of 9:45 a.m., Chugach estimated 15,000 customers were out of power.

Most of the outages are being attributed to trees that have blown into power lines. Chugach has an ongoing program to clear trees from its easements on a regular cycle every few years, but trees from outside the easement can and do still cause problems. Chugach measured winds up to 80 miles per hour at its Glen Alps communications facility earlier this morning.

Chugach crews have been dispatched to outages throughout the Anchorage Bowl. At this time there is no estimated time for restoration for all customers.

People should stay away from downed power lines and report outages to their electric utility. Chugach customers needing to report an outage should call 762-7888 (toll free at 1-800-478-7494 for customers outside Anchorage).

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, work 762-4736, cell 242-0704