UPDATE: Power was restored at 6pm March 30th, 2021.

By Laura Keil

Roughly 3000 customers between Avola and Dome Creek are still experiencing a power outage that began yesterday (March 29th) at 3:50pm. As of 3pm March 30th, BC Hydro was expecting to have power restored by 6pm.

The original time of 3pm was pushed back due to the location of the pole.

“Crews have only ATV access to the damaged pole and this slowed them down a bit,” said BC Hydro communications person Jen Walker-Larsen. “However they are up the pole now and have updated the restoration time to 6 pm tonight.”

Back-up systems supplied power to many residents between Tete Jaune Cache and Dome Creek, and many residents in Valemount, but Blue River, Avola and partway to Vavenby are without electricity.

“We have the Valemount downtown core on backup power and the two McBride mills have volunteered to shut down for the afternoon so we can hook up more Valemount customers to back up power. I don’t have any specific info on areas that will be connected though,” said Walker-Larsen.

“One thing to let folks know though is that there will be short power interruptions after we make the repairs and we switch everyone back on to BC Hydro power.”

Walker-Larsen said after doing helicopter patrols of the line they located broken cross arms on the transmission line near Birch Island.

She says residents can help restore power by lowering the draw on the system by unplugging appliances and lowering their thermostat.

Local crews have switched over some customers to back-up power from local IPPs.

While many homes have access to wood stoves or generators, those without have been largely left in the cold, with temperatures dropping to -8 during the night and remaining below zero this morning.

Yesterday’s COVID-19 restrictions mean no businesses with generators can open their doors to the public.

Blue River residents are without water, having exhausted through their reserves and having no back up power.

Valemount Mayor Owen Torgerson said the back-up power at the Valemount pump stations is continuing to increase water reserves but he still cautions people to conserve where they can.

This is the longest outage in recent years.

Many people found themselves without access to cellular data for a period of time earlier today, leaving them with the ability to make phone calls and text messages but with no access to the internet.