I am writing in response to the letter from the Nakusp & District Chamber of Commerce regarding the planned outage that appeared in the July 24 edition of the Arrow Lakes News. I appreciate the opportunity to address these concerns.
The July 5 outage was necessary to perform critical safety improvements at the Arrow Lakes Hospital as required by Transport Canada, and for reasons of public safety the work could not be delayed until the end of the summer. These upgrades undertaken by BC Hydro are important for Arrow Lakes Hospital and the community, as the installation of the marker balls will allow helicopters to fly and land safely on the Arrow lake Hospital helipad. In order for BC Hydro to ensure the safety of employees and the public, this work could not be done with live power and power had to be temporarily interrupted.
This work was a major undertaking which required significant preparation. BC Hydro received the request from Transport Canada and began planning and organizing for this outage in May. This highly specialized work required extensive planning and preparation, including developing a work plan, securing equipment, materials and other resources; scheduling local crews and arranging for additional crews to travel to Nakusp from other areas of the province; ensuring safety standards are met, and notifying customers. July 5 was the earliest date that work could go ahead. As the directive from Transport Canada was to complete the work as soon as possible, BC Hydro could not delay the work until the fall.
Through our thorough planning process, we were also able to minimize planned outages required for this area by coordinating this work with other work in the area that also required a planned outage to be safely completed. By doing the work at the same time, we managed to reduce the amount time that the community was without power from eight hours to four hours. During the four-hour outage itself, there were two line crews working in Nakusp, five power line technicians in New Denver, and 11 power line technicians at the Monashee substation.
As the work could not be safely completed in the dark it had to be done during daylight hours. We did, however, reschedule the outage to start and end one hour earlier than originally planned in order to minimize impact to the business community. The outage was originally scheduled from 8 a.m. to noon, and we later rescheduled it to take place from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. As most businesses open at 9 a.m., this meant that the majority of businesses were without power for two hours instead of three during regular hours of operation. Our crews did a great job in completing this work on time, and power was restored ahead of schedule.
In order for BC Hydro crews to safely undertake work on our system, planned outages are sometimes necessary as they are with all electrical systems. Although this is not a frequent occurrence in Nakusp, planned outages do occur regularly across the province during their normal business hours.
We do recognize that any power outage is an inconvenience, and so we do our best to minimize any impacts and accommodate the affected customers whenever possible. We also take steps to notify customers in advance, which can include discussions with local elected officials and advertising in local media. BC Hydro appreciates feedback from our customers and will discuss future planned outages with the Nakusp & District Chamber of Commerce in advance, whenever possible.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to address these concerns.
Mary Anne Coules
Stakeholder Engagement Advisor