Thousands briefly lose power from Homer to Fairbanks

Thousands of Railbelt households and businesses briefly lost power Tuesday afternoon amid a large outage at the Matanuska Electric Association plant in Eklutna.

It wasn’t immediately clear just what caused utilities from Homer to Fairbanks to temporarily cut off some services in order to protect the entire power system, utility officials said.

Nearly 15,000 households and businesses in Anchorage and more than 7,000 in Mat-Su lost power and another 1,300 lost power near Fairbanks. More than 5,000 members lost power in Homer.

Power was restored in the Anchorage area within about 10 minutes, said Julie Hasquet, the spokeswoman for Chugach Electric Association. By about 2:30 p.m. power was restored almost entirely in Mat-Su.

The outages were triggered by load shedding, a safety mechanism that triggers outages when one plant loses power in order to protect the larger system, said Jennifer Castro, a spokeswoman at Matanuska Electric Association.

“When that type of situation or event is occurring where there’s more power being used than what’s being generated at the moment, it basically trips off a group of people so that there isn’t any further damage or bigger outages caused on the system,” Castro said.