Weather

BRRRR, GRRRR

A third big outage leaves Nova Scotians all fired up

BARBARA WICKENS November 29 2004
Weather

BRRRR, GRRRR

A third big outage leaves Nova Scotians all fired up

BARBARA WICKENS November 29 2004

BRRRR, GRRRR

Weather

BARBARA WICKENS

A third big outage leaves Nova Scotians all fired up

FIRST CAME SNOW, then winds up to 75 km/h and near-zero temperatures, and when it was all over, then the storm really hit.

Early last week, the first snowstorm of the season rumbled into Nova Scotia, dumping up to 45 cm of snow and freezing rain on some parts of the province. The conditions crumpled 12 wood and metal transmission towers and tore down wires, leaving about 110,000 homes and businesses without power. For Nova Scotians, it was the third significant outage in little over a year: Hurricane Juan’s devastating winds of up to 157 km/h left 300,000 without

power last September, and in February, a weather bomb Environment Canada nicknamed White Juan clobbered Nova Scotia— including dumping a record 95.5 cm of snow on Halifax—leaving 30,000 in the dark.

Officials at Nova Scotia Power Inc., a former Crown corporation privatized in 1992, knew even as last week’s snow was falling that another sort of storm was brewing. The utility received more than 250,000 calls in just 12 hours on Nov. 14. The same day, chief operating officer Ralph Tedesco cautioned it could be

the end of the week before everyone had electricity. Working round the clock, emergency crews, including 55 from New Brunswick and Maine, had restored power four days later to all but 500 customers.

That simply wasn’t good enough for many frustrated Nova Scotians, who argued the transmission system should have been able to weather what was, in fact, not an unusual winter storm. The utility countered that its infrastructure is solid. Even so, the Nova Scotia Utilities and Review Board agreed to Premier John Hamm’s request to conduct an inquiry to determine if Nova Scotia Power was prepared and reacted appropriately. It would be easy to guess Tara Yaschuk’s opinion. The mother of six had gone to the legislature to demand answers 36 hours after her Hubley home was without power. “It’s unacceptable,” she said during a sixminute vent. “I don’t live in a Third World country.” 1Z1

Angry customers say the transmission towers should have withstood the storm