Locals wondered why it would take 11 hours for BC Hydro to repair a tree fallen on a power line on Dec. 5, and the Goat heard reports of a line break that did not involve a tree. So we asked BC Hydro more about it.
Jen Walker-Larsen, spokesperson for BC Hydro, says all outages are a priority for them. She acknowledges that in some extreme situations like the December 2006 storm that knocked out power to a quarter of a million customers, they need to prioritize. She says when BC Hydro’s crews are all deployed and they’ve called in contractors, and it is still not enough, they have to make decisions to keep critical infrastructure and hospitals powered.
But Walker-Larsen says that wasn’t the case in the Robson Valley on Dec. 5. She says crews were called out at 2:30 am that morning, but repairing a break is often complicated. Crews have to patrol lines, which can mean hiking if they are not visible from the road, to see where the damage is, and to see if it is only in one spot. In this case, Walker-Larsen says there were two breaks – one near Loseth and Stone Roads, where a tree had fallen and damaged a cross arm and some equipment, and another on the other side of the highway through some farm property.
Walker-Larsen also points out that before repairs can be started, the line has to be isolated – it has to be disconnected from the substation and from any independent power producers, and that has to be done manually. Then once all the damages are repaired, the connections have to be re-established.
She says it is sometimes difficult to get all the info to the media, as it often requires her talking to repair work managers in person before the entire situation is clear.