Power surge hits 900 HEA customers

Homer Electric Association has seen about 30 damage claims filed by customers affected in a power surge on June 21.

The surge happened last Tuesday evening when a polymer-composite insulator broke on a power pole near the Homer Police Station on Heath Street. A 25 kilovolt line fell onto a lower voltage line, sending the high voltage into that line and energizing it at 25 kilovolts. That sent a surge through about 900 HEA meters in the Homer area. The system then shut down, resulting in a power outage that lasted until 11:15 p.m., according to an HEA press release.

Tech Connect, a Homer electronics and computer repair store, said one customer reported the surge going through her home.

“She said it sounded just like popcorn going off in her house,” said Tech Connect owner Gail Forrest.

HEA spokesperson Joe Gallagher said customers also reported damage.

“Most of what we’re seeing are damage to appliances: TVs, microwaves, things of that nature,” he said.

Forrest said laptop computers have surge protectors built into the “brick,” the box between the computer and the outlet. Desktop computers, monitors and printers would need some sort of surge protection at the outlet. A smart phone or tablet power cord also does not have surge protection.

Gallagher suggested talking to an electrician about how to best protect appliances and electronics from power surges.

Customers affected by the surge can file damage claims with HEA. The claims are provided to HEA’s insurance firm for review, he said.

“At this point we’re collecting the damage claims and there’s an investigation going on to what happens. All that information is being provided to the insurance company and we go from there,” he said.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.