A project is underway to replace the power line across Turnagain Pass on the Kenai Peninsula. Skiers and snowmachiners between Turnagain Arm and the Johnson Pass campground are advised to be on the lookout for stockpiles of materials placed there by the Chugach Electric Association, which may be covered with snow as the winter wears on.
At its heart it was yet another episode of extreme weather. In this case it happened in the winter of 2010 and 2011. It was extreme snowfall, avalanches and icing, and power lines were wiped out. It took weeks to restore them.
The Chugach Electric Association spent at least a couple of million dollars to get the intertie between Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula working again. Spokesman Phil Steyer says the line, built in 1962, has seen better days, and is very much in need of replacement:
A $15-million appropriation from the Legislature will pay for replacing the highest priority section of the line, through the mountains above Turnagain Arm along the Seward Highway, where the damage caused by the storm can easily be seen in all the trees that simply broke, at the upper parts of their trunks, due to heavy snow and ice load.
The new power line will be capable of doubling the capacity of the intertie, and will be elevated higher above the ground, so it can more easily shed ice:
In all, 21 spans of the transmission line sagged to the ground during that storm. The fifteen miles being replaced this winter will add to the amount of the 90-mile line that was replaced after the 2011 avalanches.
Steyer says after Turnagain Pass the next part of the intertie they’re looking at is the section between Powerline Pass and Indian Creek. That’s where a lot of trees fell during last fall’s windstorm, and knocked out the power up Turnagain Arm.