Homer Electric Association’s outage map lights up with confirmed outages across the Central Kenai Peninsula around 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Homer Electric Association’s outage map lights up with confirmed outages across the Central Kenai Peninsula around 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

Electricity, networks interrupted during wind storm

9,000 HEA customers reported outages by 5 p.m.

In the aftermath of a severe windstorm that began Thursday night and continued through Friday, several services were left interrupted for residents of the central Kenai Peninsula.

At 3 p.m. on Thursday, Homer Electric Association was reporting outages affecting roughly 350 members. By 11 p.m., the service had confirmed 13 large outages — though crews working through the night were able to restore service to some communities as early as 4 p.m.

On Friday, in a series of updates posted to Facebook, the number of members without service climbed, from around 1,700 at 8:30 a.m. to 9,000 at 5 p.m. The service said that there were “roughly 100 individual outages north of Clam Gulch.”

The service’s outage map, around 5:30 p.m., showed 9,700 members affected by outages. That’s approximately 29% of Homer Electric Association’s total membership.

“Trees are blowing into the line as fast as our lineman can clear them,” the service wrote.

In the updates posted to social media, the service wrote that crews had worked through the night. Those crews, “for safety reasons,” had to be assigned mandatory rest Friday morning, but the service said that additional personnel and contract crews had traveled from both Homer and Anchorage to help with ongoing repairs.

“We are working as fast as possible to restore your power,” they wrote. “This windstorm has impacted the entire region and we ask for your patience.”

From that high near 5 p.m. on Friday, each update from the service — through 10 a.m. on Sunday — said that power had been restored to more members. As of 1 p.m. on Monday, the service’s outage map said four members were without power.

“The lineman have worked around the clock – 24 hours a day – in staggered shifts removing trees and repairing over 100 separate outages to restore power to 9000 members. Many of them missed watching their kid’s ballgame and spending the holiday weekend with their families and this is not the first time,” the service wrote on Facebook.

“A big shout out to these men and their families for their sacrifice to keep the lights on for Kenai Peninsula.”

It wasn’t just electricity seeing interruptions this weekend, as network services, too, were impacted.

For a few hours around noon on Friday, GCI services were interrupted, phones on their network unable to access the internet, send texts, or make calls. Similarly, GCI internet, like that carried at the Soldotna Public Library, was down for a similar amount of time.

“Blowing, blowing… gone!” the library wrote on Facebook around noon. “Our computers, printer, and WiFi are currently out of order.”

Phone service began to be restored around 2 p.m., but GCI didn’t address the outage via social media. The library wrote at 5 p.m. that they had seen internet service restored.

Alaska Communications, another local provider of internet services, wrote that their network was impacted — “slower-than-usual.” That interruption was not because of the wind, they said, but because of a fiber cut in Tacoma, Washington. At 1:30 p.m., they wrote that a splice crew had been dispatched to make a repair — but by 5 p.m., they said the crew was “still mobilizing.” Service was restored, according to a 6 a.m. update, around 3 a.m.

For more information about any of the services mentioned in this story, including updates on confirmed outages, visit their Facebook pages.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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