Nakusp council and businesses ask Hydro for outage answers

The power outage on Friday, July 5 did more than interrupt refrigeration units in Nakusp, it broke the cool of many local business owners.

The power outage on Friday, July 5 did more than interrupt refrigeration units in Nakusp, it broke the cool of many local business owners. In a recent open letter to BC Hydro, the Nakusp and District Chamber of Commerce put the question of why an outage, which had been in planning stages since May, had been scheduled for business hours in the busy tourist month of July.

“It would be greatly appreciated if BC Hydro would support the community by taking business concerns into consideration when scheduling power outages in the future,” reads the letter.

BC Hydro representative Mary Anne Coules told the Arrow Lakes News that Hydro is aware that planned outages are an inconvenience, but said they do take place across the province during normal business hours.

The outage on July 5 took place so that a crew could install marker balls on lines and paint power poles with safety colours for the safety of helicopters flying to and from Arrow Lakes Hospital.

“We do recognize that these planned outages are an inconvenience, and do our best to minimize any impacts and accommodate the affected communities whenever possible,” Coules stated in an email.

The rep’s reply to why the work couldn’t have been scheduled earlier was that the work could not be safely completed in the dark and had to be done during daylight hours.

“The outage was originally scheduled from 8:00 a.m. to noon,” said Coules,  who noted it was later rescheduled to take place earlier, from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

“Our crews did a great job in completing this work on schedule, and power was restored four minutes ahead of schedule,” she said. Hydro crews coordinated work needing to be done in the area so that the power only went out for four hours.

“The work that was done during the four-hour outage was a significant undertaking,” Coules told the Arrow Lakes News. “During the four-hour planned outage, there were two line crews working in Nakusp, five power line technicians in New Denver, and 11 power line technicians at the Monashee substation.”

Although Coules stated that the procedure for notifying customers and elected officials and advertising an upcoming outage were followed, Nakusp council also decided to write a letter to Hydro requesting that communication about planned power outages be improved. Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling said she was surprised that the initial consultation about the outage in May had been followed up with only an email notification on June 25 that the outage would be on July 5.

When asked if Hydro had considered building redundancy in the grid so that power outages might affect fewer people in Nakusp, New Denver and Silverton for shorter periods of time, Coules only responded that the overall reliability of Nakusp’s power is comparable to other rural regions across the province that also experience unplanned power outages.