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North Island rides out hottest day of the year with a 21-hour power outage

Heat didn’t cause damage to transmission pole, but it hampered efforts to find the problem
BC Hydro photo

The mad heat of the past few days didn’t hit the North Island quite as hard as the rest Vancouver Island. And it was a good thing too.

Residents of Port McNeill, Port Hardy and surrounding areas were left without any power to drive their air conditioners for 21 hours Monday and Tuesday due to a damaged transmission line and difficulty finding it.

About 12,000 BC Hydro customers affected.

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It was on Monday (June 28) at around 3:30 p.m. when BC Hydro first received the report of the outage affecting the whole North Island, says Ted Olynyk, BC Hydro spokesperson.

Olynyk noted that once crews were assigned to the outage, helicopters left from Parksville and began patrolling the transmission line trying to find the cause. “Instrumentation gave them an idea where the problem was, and they believed it was a tree on the line,” added Olynyk.

Helicopters continued to focus on the area where they thought the outage was occuring from, but they couldn’t find anything, and because of the heat, the crews could only work so many hours, so they had to hold off on searching again until the next morning.

“Our crews will be in the air at first light to work to continue indentifying the outage cause,” BC Hydro’s website stated at 9:30 p.m. on Monday night. “We have ground crews and equipment in the area ready to restore power when the outage cause is found.”

After searching the transmission line again, the crews “found the problem was damage to a transmission pole… about 10 kilometres out of Woss,” said Olynyk. “It was very difficult to see from the helicopter, but they did eventually pinpoint it.”

Power to the North Island was restored around 12:20 p.m.

Olynyk added the damage to the transmission pole was not caused by heat. “It was just a piece of equipment that eventually failed at the wrong time… We appreciate our customers patience during this period, we know there is never a good time for an outage.”

Temperatures peaked at 30 C in Port Hardy Monday, considerably cooler than what was happening further south, but still a record high for that day.

BC Hydro runs one transmission line to the Northern Vancouver Island area so there were no backup lines available.

In a previous interview with the Gazette, Olynyk noted the North Island is very similar to Lake Cowichan and West Vancouver Island.

“There’s only one way to get power up there and the possibility of damage [to a second transmission line] would still exist.”


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