Case Studies

City Electric Inc.

Over 67 Years Weathering the Storm in Alaska
  • Written by: City Electric Inc.
  • Produced by: City Electric Inc.
  • Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Since 1946 City Electric Inc. (CEI) has served the needs of Alaskans and others throughout the West, going where ever the job demands. From the Sierras in northern California to Juneau to Prudhoe Bay in north Alaska, CEI has established itself by being able to handle all kinds of harsh weather conditions with dedication and expertise. The Anchorage-based company covers a broad range of electrical and telecommunications services transmission lines to fiber optic systems and directional drilling

Gabriel Marian, president of CEI, has been with the company for 22 years. “I’m actually a CPA,” Marian reveals. “I’m not an electrician, but 22 years ago when we were headquartered in Seattle I was hired as a controller. A few years later, when the original president retired, he asked me to take over.”

Today CEI operates mainly in Alaska; however, the team also has the capability to serve Washington, Oregon and northern California with anywhere between 100 and 250 union-contracted employees. “We’ll hire as many people as we need, depending on the job,” details Marian. “That includes factoring the type and intensity of work.”

CEI is able to span Alaska from its main Anchorage office and a satellite office in Fairbanks. The company also has a location in Olympia, Wash., allowing CEI to reach clients further down the West Coast into California.

Going Remote

Intense, challenging projects in some of the world’s roughest conditions is just business as usual for CEI. “We often are operating in hazardous areas, including avalanche prone territory and well below zero temperatures,” adds Marian.

The company is currently in the midst of installing an extensive amount of fiber optic cabling for the industry giant AT&T. “We’ve had to cover a lot of ground on this one,” shares Marian. “The cabling runs over 500 miles across the state and will increase communications throughout some of the smaller territories.”

CEI has come to the rescue many times for some remote, nearly isolated areas. “Several times, we’ve repaired a transmission line in the town of Juneau because it had been destroyed by an avalanche,” recalls Marian. “Until the line is repaired, the town has to run off diesel powered generators that can dramatically increase power bills from $200 to easily $1,000 in the course of a month. We’re hailed as the hero when we come into Juneau to fix the line.”

Due to the lay of the land and the imminent possibility of another avalanche, CEI often uses helicopters to swoop in and bring new transmission structures. “Safety is always our priority,” adds Marian. “We hire the right crews who have experience and knowledge related to extreme conditions and we’re in constant coordination with avalanche watch and prediction teams.”

Diversity in the North

“Our experience gained from literally thousands of projects over the years qualifies us as a leader among electrical and telecommunications contractors in this region,” explains Marian. “Our strength lies in our diversity of services and that we know the area because it’s our home.”

CEI covers all electrical disciplines from communications to interior electrical, transmission line and distribution repairs to fiber optic cabling and directional drilling. The company is one of the few in the north to pioneer directional drilling technology. “We’re able to limit the environmental impact of installing underground utilities,” details Marian. “In more developed areas, directional drilling saves time and reduces the amount of surface disturbances normally encountered with such an operation. We employ a variety of high-tech drills, including the Vermeer D80X100.”

After nearly seven decades in business, Marian thinks CEI is still on the right track for success. “Given the economic situation in Alaska, if we stay where we are in the market, we’d be happy,” he says. “The economy up here isn’t as strong has it used to be several years ago, because, now, we’re not producing as much oil. Alaska is the third largest oil producer in the country behind North Dakota and Texas.”

Marian hopes the company will eventually be able to expand more into Washington. “It’s a competitive market there though,” he admits. “If we continue to go where the other guys won’t up here, we’ll remain in top in our market.”

Through a wide range of services offered to some of the country’s most isolated, remote locations, CEI truly stands out in the northern corner of the U.S. Since 1946 the City Electric Inc. team has proudly served the needs of Alaskans with trusted electrical and telecommunications solutions.

For more information about City Electric Inc., please visit:

Published on: July 2, 2013

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