Electricity restored for thousands of MEA customers affected by outage

Casey Grove

About 14,000 Matanuska Electric Association customers lost power Monday in an outage that began just after noon, the utility said.

MEA worked to restore electricity during the afternoon, bringing thousands of customers back online at a time. The utility announced about 4:15 p.m. that all of those affected had been reconnected.

An equipment problem at a substation north of Eagle River caused the outage, which affected the Eagle River, Birchwood, Chugiak and Peters Creek areas, MEA spokesman Kevin Brown said. An eight-foot long component of the substation failed, and while utility workers thought at first that birds or squirrels might have been responsible, they ruled out that possibility, Brown said.

"We don't know the cause of the equipment failure yet, it could be several different things," Brown said. "When a substation like that goes offline, often the substations around it will trip offline to protect themselves. They could pick up that extra load, but it would be too much for them."

MEA kept its customers updated on the situation through the utility's Facebook page, facebook.com/matanuska.electric, and Twitter feed, twitter.com/meacoop.

Eleven public schools were affected, according to Anchorage School District spokeswoman Heidi Embley. Some have generators.

Eagle Academy Charter School encouraged parents to pick up their children whenever possible, Embley said. Other schools and activities continued as scheduled, she said.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4343.