Windstorm causes mass power outages

Monday’s wind gusts of up to 65 kilometres an hour caused power outages in and around Williams Lake, affecting around 5,000 customers.

Monday’s wind gusts of up to 65 kilometres an hour caused power outages in and around Williams Lake, affecting around 5,000 customers.

Some customers were without power for a couple of hours, while others waited longer.  By the next day, however, power had been restored.

Several outages were caused by trees down on hydro wires, says BC Hydro. The biggest areas hit were east of Highway 97, affecting 2,652 customers; west of Dog Creek Road, affecting 2,105 customers; east of Likely Road, with 875 customers affected; and within Williams Lake, the largest being in the 600 block of Carson Drive, where 82 customers were without power.

BC Hydro community relations manager Bob Gammer says removing fallen trees from hydro lines is the company’s responsibility.

“People are going to look around and think their power is out so it’s OK to remove a tree, but we say no because you just never know what could happen,” Gammer says.

Crews might be out working to restore power, didn’t see that tree, and the line could suddenly be energized while somebody is trying to cut it down. The tree could be energized and that could be fatal.

“If people see a tree on a line we want them to call us at 1-888-POWERON,” he explains. Even if people see wires down on the ground, a broken hydro pole, or a tree smashed through and caused damage, they are encouraged to let hydro know.

People are also encouraged to stay at least 10 metres away from any downed lines.

While smart meters have been installed at many homes in the region, Gammer says they wouldn’t have helped let BC Hydro know where power outages were and how many customers were affected.

By this time next year, however, the meters will be help BC Hydro know much sooner because customer calls alerting an outage won’t be necessary.

“The smart meter will actually be able to do that job next year. For those who are getting a meter on their home it does not immediately start doing that job. It will continue to function like an older meter in that it will record all the consumption information, just like an old meter did, and we will still need a meter reader to come around and record the consumption data.

In 2013, the system will start doing that wireless communication and then BC Hydro will know automatically when and where there are power outages.

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