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Unalaskans Left Without Power Monday Evening After Equipment Failure

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KUCB Staff
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Nearly all of Unalaska lost power for over an hour on Monday evening. 

The outage left everyone on the city's grid, except for those on Standard Oil Hill, without electricity, according to Public Utilities Director Dan Winters. 

The outage was due to equipment failure. Specifically, one of the city's potential transformers shut down, and those transformers essentially translate and oversee the communication of the city's electricity as it leaves the main powerhouse, said Winters. And when the transformer went out, it also shut down what is called a "viper."

"These vipers talk to everything in the field and they look at current, they look at hertz, everything," Winters said. "So within these vipers, there are smaller transformers that take the higher voltage and turn it into 120 volts, and those are called potential transformers. And they run the controls for the vipers to talk to all the other equipment." 

When the potential transformer failed, it shut down communication to and from the vipers. And according to Winters, this is a big enough hiccup to trip most of the city's breakers, which it did.

This issue has happened before and can be fixed, he said. The city is currently waiting on new tailor-made transformers that should solve the problem, and which are better equipped for the Aleutian landscape and weather.

"The potential transformers that we have — I don't want to say they weren't made for this country, but they are real finicky in this type of weather change," Winters said. "And so what we are doing is changing those potential transformers out to a newer, more robust style." 

He's expecting the new transformers within the next three months, and the installation for those should be fairly quick and painless, he said.

 

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