by Lorien Nettleton ~ October 14th, 2011
The first measurable snow of the season brought some quiet and solitude to Talkeetna this morning when downed power lines cut power in the area.
Pinpointing interruptions to service and restoring power in town can take up to several hours, says Matanuska Energy Association spokesperson Cheryll Heinze. The closest power substation is in big lake, and when power is reported out, Linemen have an hour-long drive before they can begin tracking down the cause of the outage, Heinze says.
Trees knocked over by snow or wind are the leading cause of power failures in the area. In a wind event last fall, power to town was out for several days. Heinze says linemen would get the tree cleared and the power back on, only to see another tree drop on the line as they drove away.
Last month MEA crews finished clearing the brush and trees along all powerlines in the Talkeetna area. It was the first time in 10 years the power easements here had received a trim, and MEA, says the clearing will help reduce – but not eliminate – service outages caused by downed trees.
MEA Clearing Operations manager Tony Zellars says the budget for clearing power easements has substantially increased in the last few years, going from two-hundred-thousand dollars to One point Two million dollars this year. Because the utility has over four thousand miles of power lines across an area the size of West Virginia, Zellars says their policy is to clear each area every seven years.
MEA asks anyone who sees a downed line to report its location by calling 696-7697. If the downed lines are on or near your property, knowing your meter number will help them pinpoint the location and restore service more quickly.