BC Hydro asked to answer for power outages

BC Hydro reps say they were trimming trees all summer, turned off the reset switches.

BC Hydro representatives attended the Sept. 29 Cache Creek Council meeting to explain the frequency of power outages in the Village this summer.

Four outages in June resulted in about seven and a half hours of no electricity. A four-hour outage on July 1 effectively ended the town’s Canada Day celebrations and dance in the Community Hall.

BC Hydro Community Relations Manager Dag Sharman told Council that one of the key causes of power outages in BC is trees and branches on the line. This summer, he said, crews trimmed trees. And when they work on the lines, they turn the reclosers off to prevent accidents. The recloser turns the power off and back on again in a split second. When the recloser is off, the power doesn’t come back on until a manual inspection is made to determine that it is safe to do so.

Sharman said the reclosers were turned off all summer because they were making the lines safe from trees.

“These are the lines between Ashcroft and Cache Creek?” asked Coun. Wyatt McMurray. “I’m  trying to get my head wrapped around all of the trees between here and Ashcroft – all two of them.”

Sharman was joined by Pete Smith from the Cache Creek Distribution Office. Smith said the crews could have been out by Walhachin or north by Bonaparte Ranch.

Mayor John Ranta noted that when he looked at the BC Hydro website to see where a couple of the outages originated, it looked like it happened around Walhachin and yet it took out most of downtown Cache Creek.

“If I was determined to provide best service to a municipality and was turning off the (recloser) reset switch, wouldn’t it make sense to have a guy stand there to ask if it’s okay to turn the power back on?” he asked them.

“We don’t have resources or willingness to incur the cost to have a man sitting there all summer,” said Sharman. “They’re there anyhow, but there wasn’t anyone stationed in Cache Creek because of staff shortages.”

McMurray asked why they would leave the reset switch off during a long weekend when no one would be working on the lines, and when Cache Creek businesses would be busy selling gas, food and other things requiring electricity.

“Couldn’t you have turned the reset switch back on?” he asked.

Smith said they were following policy, but that has now been changed and the switch will be turned back on during weekends when the crews aren’t working.

In Cache Creek you have 10 weeks to make enough money to pay bills for the year, said McMurray. Losing electricity during that time is a big deal to businesses.

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