Power restored to thousands of Interior residents after major windstorm

a view from a car window of toppled trees
Strong winds on Monday, July 25, 2022, toppled trees near Nicholas Fountain’s home in North Pole. (Nicholas Fountain)

Repair crews have made significant progress fixing power lines hit by trees felled in a windstorm Monday. 

As of late Wednesday afternoon, Golden Valley Electric Association had restored service to all but about 2,000 of the 30,000 members who lost power.

“As soon as we saw the magnitude of the wind and the damage that was occurring, we mobilized all of our GVEA crews and then Interior contractor crews that we work with, and we also asked for support from Anchorage crews,” said Meadow Bailey, GVEA’s director of external affairs and public relations.

Bailey said the initial focus was on the more populated areas of Fairbanks, where repairs brought large numbers of customers back online.

“And so we are reminding anyone who is in a more remote location or is part of a smaller outage to make sure that you are prepared,” said Bailey. “We’re anticipating that there will be members who are without power through Thursday of this week, and we recognize that that is a long time for an outage.”  

The last extended weather related GVEA power outage was caused by unusually heavy snow and rain this past Christmas. Bailey said this week’s similarly rare summertime high wind-caused outage is even worse in terms of impacts to electric infrastructure.

“Our crews are reporting back that the damage they are seeing is more severe than what we experienced during the December storms,” she said. “We’re seeing more broken and pulled down lines than we did in December.”

Bailey said most of the trees that fell onto lines were growing outside of the right-of-way, which the utility keeps clear. She cautions people about the danger posed by trees on power lines, and says so far GVEA is not aware of anyone being hurt.      

“We do have concern though, and have heard about quite a few close calls, and so we remind people don’t try to remove trees from a line on your own, and I say that knowing that there are people who have been 36 or 48 hours without power and getting frustrated,” said Bailey. 

Bailey asked that customers call GVEA’s dispatch line to report outages and trees on power lines, and then be patient until a line crew can get there.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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