A City On Diesel: The First Weekend

Life styles for both Hannah and Myself (as well as most of Juneau Alaska) has take a big change this weekend. We are running as few electric devices as we can. The lights in our apartment are rarely on. We have candles to light the way for the most part. Everything we own that could be plugged into a surge protector has been plugged into one. We did this because when where not using anything we can just flip the off switch to ensure nothing is drawing any electrical power. We have unplugged everything else. Lights, gaming consoles, computers, and even the microwave.

The two of us went out shopping this weekend for groceries only to find that almost every store in town has at least half of their lights turned off. I am sure there are safety concerns that prevent them from turning off more then that.

At night the town is darker then I have ever seen it. Most building lights are turned off. It’s just dark and spooky almost.

I have been trying to keep on top of the local news paper website (Juneau Empire) to keep informed on what is going on. I feel like it might be a slow week for action. But will see.

A City On Diesel. The Story Continues

The City of Juneau has asked the state of Alaska for $25 million in relief funds.

The Juneau city government shifted into response gear Thursday by declaring the loss of its hydroelectricity a “disaster,” then asking the state for aid to cover a nearly instantaneous 500 percent rate hike.

At a special meeting, the Juneau Assembly unanimously approved the disaster resolution, asking the state for $25 million in relief funds to offset electricity rates for 90 days.

This just gets better and better. Hannah and I have been been living int he dark at our place. The heat has been turned down ten degrees. We are using candles to see our way around most of the time at home. I hope that the city gets this state aid we can go back to living like normal again.

The towers, built in known avalanche terrain by the Army Corps of Engineers, had no specialized structural engineering to reduce avalanche damage, AEL&P Engineer Scott Willis said.

“We’ll probably have to rebuild five towers,” he said. The last tower AEL&P replaced on that line cost about $1.1 million.

Avalanches Are A Pain

Avalanche AreaAccording to the local paper, our power rates are likely to quintuple next month as a result of the avalanche that knocked out Juneau’s supply of hydro power. The whole city is currently running off of diesel generators and will most likely continue to run off of them for the next 3 to 4 months. 

The transmission line to Juneau from the Snettisham Power House, about 40 miles south of town, went down at 3:54 a.m., Wood said. The avalanche started three miles from the power house. It was 1.5 miles across.

Utility Diesel GeneratorsA helicopter was used by Alaska Electric Light and Power Co (AEL&P) to assess the damage. One of the transmission towers was down completely and four others were damaged. The bad weather at the time prevented AEL&P from making a complete assessment of the damage. To add insult to injury, shortly after the the helicopter left another avalanche took out additional towers.

It’s just a terrible place to have a transmission line,” AEL&P General Manager Tim McLeod said. “Those are straight-up-and-down cliffs.


We Are Running On Diesel Generators

Looks like this morning the city of Juneau lost power from Juneau’s Hydro Power due to an avalanche.

Juneau’s electricity rates are likely to triple on May bills as the result of an avalanche early this morning that cut all hydroelectric power to the area, according to an Alaska Electric Light & Power spokeswoman.

Juneau is running on diesel generators at Auke Bay and Lemon Creek, said Gayle Wood, director of consumer affairs.

One transmission tower is down and four damaged on the Snettisham line, which connects hydro power to the service area.

Outages were limited to the Thane area this morning, because the power load transferred to the diesel generators that were already running.

Wood said it would be two to three weeks before workers could safely begin repairing the line and that hydro power wouldn’t be restored for at least three months.

Well, this is going to make for a very expensive next few months.


According to the KINY radio website, a rep from Alaska Electric Light and Power says that they are working to try and figure out how to secure enough diesel to handle 3 to 4 months of usage. They are stressing the importance of power conservation.

Alaska Electric Light and Power said that they have been trying to assess the damage from the air

…a massive avalanche about three miles from the Snettisham power house that took out about a mile and a hour of transmission line. That includes damage to four to five towers…

The website continues with:

The electric utility official says customers can expect to see some very high bills. 

Residential rates were at 11 cents per kilowatt hour.

Alaska Electric Light and Powe initially estimated it would go to 30 to 35 cents, but has since revised that figure to 50 cents and adds that’s a conservative figure.