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Severe Weather Causes Power Outages Throughout CVEA Service Territory

December 18, 2023, 6 p.m.


Glennallen, AK – Severe weather struck CVEA’s service territory last week, resulting in multiple power outages beginning early Tuesday morning, December 12, and lasting through the morning of Sunday, December 17.

Wet, heavy snow blanketed the service territory and caused the outages experienced by CVEA members. Heavy snow caused trees to bend or break and fall into power lines, causing damage to the lines and other equipment.

The majority of initial outages were focused in the Copper Basin. CVEA’s line crew began restoration efforts on a section of the Richardson Highway, between MP 82-100, early Tuesday morning. By 10 a.m., there were additional outages affecting several areas of the district.

Due to avalanches closing Thompson Pass, the Valdez line crew was unable to assist with restoration efforts in the Copper Basin. CVEA reached out to contractors for assistance and was able to secure extra line crew members from Northern Power Constructors in Anchorage and Electric Power Constructors in the Mat-Su Valley. These crews arrived on scene at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively. Crews worked through the day and night restoring outages in various locations along the Richardson, Old Rich, Edgerton, and Glenn Highways.

On Wednesday, at roughly 3:30 a.m., a system-wide outage occurred due to a fault on the transmission line. Power was restored to the majority of members in both districts within an hour. The transmission line was patrolled with a helicopter at daylight. A tree was found on the transmission line across the bay from Valdez in an area prone to avalanches. After consulting with an avalanche expert to ensure the safety of personnel, crews were allowed to work under specific conditions. The line crew accessed the area on tracked rigs and repaired the line on Saturday, allowing the system to be reconnected.

As Copper Basin crews continued restoration efforts throughout the district, a tree burning through a power line caused a district-wide outage Wednesday night. A plant operator immediately responded, and power was restored to the majority of the district within 40 minutes. Parts of Glennallen, and everyone on the North Line to Sourdough, continued to experience an outage until repairs were completed by the following morning.

Power was restored to all members in both districts, apart from three individual meters, by 10 a.m. Thursday.

Between late Friday evening and early Sunday morning, one district-wide outage occurred in Valdez and two system-wide outages occurred. With each outage, the Valdez line crew patrolled the line looking for the fault. The outages on Friday and Sunday were due to trees in the line. Trees were removed and power was restored. The cause of Saturday’s outage was presumed to be ‘snow slap.’ This occurs when wet, heavy snow piles up on power lines, then releases, causing lines to move aggressively and contact each other, creating a fault.

In addition to these significant outages, there were additional isolated outages in the Valdez district.

Crews worked around the clock throughout the duration of this weather event systematically patrolling the lines, clearing trees from the lines, and making necessary equipment repairs. Areas were re-energized as soon as repairs were complete, and conditions allowed.

The Cooperative thanks all CVEA members for their patience and supportive comments, and thanks the CVEA team who worked tirelessly throughout this weather event to get the lights back on and keep members informed. CVEA would also like to thank the crews from both Electric Power Constructors and Northern Power Constructors for their support.

CVEA reminds members they can get real-time outage information as it becomes available by visiting the Copper Valley Electric Association Facebook page, viewing the Facebook feed on the home page at cvea.org (no Facebook account necessary), or by calling CVEA Dispatch at 1-866-835-2832. Updates are posted on the voicemail greeting system.

We ask that members recognize that the Operator's priority is to assess the situation and then develop a plan to get the lights back on. The process includes locating the cause of the outage, calling appropriate personnel, bringing additional generation online as necessary and energizing distribution lines to restore service to customers. Depending on weather, time of day, cause and location, these activities can take minutes or hours; therefore, this information is not always available immediately.

CVEA does provide updates as soon as information is available, so if you do not see it initially, please be patient and check back.

If you have questions regarding this news release, please contact Sharon Scheidt, CVEA Director of Communications, at 907-822-3211, 907-835-4301, or email sscheidt@cvea.org.

Contact:  Sharon Scheidt    sscheidt@cvea.org    907-255-1425    

Website: www.cvea.org