Darkness falls over Robson Valley

by EVAN MATTHEWS 

Two major power outages last week had people all over the Robson Valley left in the dark as to what was going on, but B.C. Hydro says they were fully aware and had reason.

B.C. Hydro had crews out for scheduled maintenance, which caused numerous outages, according to hydro spokesperson, Bob Gammer, and when the crews work — the power is out.

“On Wednesday the 19th, there were two planned outages for the Blue River area,” Gammer says, noting there would be no power anywhere past Blue River on the grid, which includes Valemount and McBride.

Hydro had two outages scheduled for Wednesday, according to Gammer, with one being at 8 AM and the other at 5 PM.

However, the outage scheduled for 8 AM was delayed until around 11:30 AM and lasted for half-an-hour, according to Gammer, which in turn pushed back the outage scheduled for 5 PM.

The second outage lasted for only about 20 minutes, according to Gammer, but he says it was delayed until about 6:50 PM.

But why did both Villages experience outages, given there is backup power available?

“In order to keep the lights on in Valemount and McBride, we run the McBride Diesel Generator, and the IPP at Castle Creek,” says Gammer. “It’s a small generating station, privately owned.”

Usually switches between the integrated grid and the back up system is seamless, Gammer says, but synchronizing the two proved to be troublesome this past week.

Between the McBride Diesel Station and the station at Castle Creek, Gammer says there is more than enough back up power for both McBride and Valemount.

Then on Thursday, Oct. 20, another outage occurred affecting all of Valemount and McBride, which lasted all of three minutes, according to Gammer.

The outage was not planned and lasted from 5:38 to 5:41 PM, according to Gammer.

With the work being done in the area, Gammer says B.C. Hydro was at the end of another planned (maintenance) outage, but ran into technical issues in its transition after working on the system.

“In the past it’s gone seamlessly, so we wouldn’t have had a three-minute outage,” says Gammer.

“Our engineers are looking into why it didn’t work seamlessly last week,” he says.

However, on Thursday, the problem wasn’t the main integrated grid switching to the back up power, but the opposite.

McBride and Valemount, according to Gammer, were operating on back up power on Thursday — separate from the grid — integrating the two Villages back into the grid took longer than expected, causing the three minute delay.

Did you know the Goat could not operate without people buying the newspaper? Subscribe today!