Weekend power outages plague islanders at south end

  • Jan. 17, 2005 10:00 a.m.

It was a very dark weekend for people on the south end of the islands, as numerous power outages left BC Hydro customers blindly stumbling for flashlights and matches. When the power went out for the third time (in the middle of a movie) you probably asked “why?”
There are several factors that came together to disrupt the system, according to BC Hydro’s Frank McGowan. Firstly, the two weeks of cold, extremely dry weather dried the insulators on the power poles. Then, two days of high winds picked up fresh salt off the ocean and deposited it all over the insulators. Next, the light drizzle turned the caked salt into a conductor, which shorted out the high-voltage system. “This has happened before,” said Mr. McGowan, “but not as bad as this.” The poles get electrified when this happens, he said, and look like they’re on fire. If it had rained though, instead of just drizzled, it would have washed the salt away – which is what usually happens.
“It’s been very busy,” he said. On Sunday night, a downed tree knocked the power out for Port residents, and just as crews restored power there, there was another outage in Charlotte. Masset stayed relatively powered up for the whole weekend though, apart from a few short-lived ‘bumps.’
There were 24 blips and outages in 2004, and according to BC Hydro spokesperson Charmane Edwards, outages here are usually due to trees and branches falling on the lines, but “each one is individual.” On the islands at this time of year there are a lot of windstorms, she said, and the branches and trees on the lines create a huge challenge for the crews trying to restore power, because they have to work with each damaged section individually. So why does the power sometimes conk out on a perfectly calm day? Equipment failure is one reason, she said, but also broken poles and heavy, wet snow can contribute to outages. The reason for one recent outage, which left over 3,000 customers without power on Friday morning, is still under investigation, said Ms. Edwards.

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii sportfishing lodges set to shut down

Tourism company wants to enact experiences more in line with Haida values

Immediate deal to reinstate AMHS in Prince Rupert not out of the question: Mayor Brain

B.C., Alaska officials fail to sign ferry deal in Juneau to reinstate service from Ketchikan

‘It affects everybody:’ Trudeau’s brownface photos worry Wet’suwet’en chief

Skeena-Bulkley Valley Liberal candidate declines to comment on prime minister’s indiscretion

Haida Gwaii art gala seeks submissions

Annual fundraiser supports local artists and programs

On The Wing: Raptors in the wind, shearwaters in the waves

By Margo Hearne A hawk glides over the dune ridges. It circles,… Continue reading

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

One-in-five British Columbians think they’ll win big while gambling: study

Roughly 58 per cent of British Columbians bought at least one lottery ticket in past year

Takaya, B.C.’s intriguing lone wolf, seen eating seal and howling away on Discovery Island

Fun facts about Takaya the wolf, like his a 36-hour tour around Chatham, Discovery Islands

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

Oak Bay father’s testimony at murder trial like plot of ‘bad low-budget movie:’ Crown

Crown alleged Andrew Berry’s ‘entire story of Christmas Day is a lie’

Most Read