Power restored for most of Tumbler Ridge

Power has been restored to most of Tumbler Ridge as of late last night.

Dave Conway, community relations manager for BC Hydro, said the transmission line serving the town was energized at around 8:25 p.m. He said there was a slight delay in the conclusion of the planned power outage due to a problem at the switch yard at the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, though he hasn't heard what the problem was.

However, he said a few customers still do not have power due to complications during unrelated maintenance work that was happening at the same time as the outage.

"What we did yesterday during the outage in a number of different locations, including Tumbler Ridge, was some maintenance work in communities," said Conway. "One of the things we did in Tumbler Ridge was replace a transformer in one of the neighbourhoods in the community. It turned out one of the new transformers we installed at a particular neighbourhood in Tumbler Ridge was faulty, so as a result there were about a dozen customers who did not have power restored when everybody else did."

He said the neighbourhood directly affected is in the area of Peace River Crescent. He said about 76 customers in total were affected this morning by the switching that needed to take place to access the faulty transformer. He said almost all of those customers, with the exception of the 12 directly affected by the transformer, have had their power restored, and a new transformer is on-route to the town.

"We estimate the transformer should be in the community late this morning and the transformer should be replaced and power restored to all customers by about noon."

Conway said BC Hydro does not have the ability to supply the whole town with a backup power supply in case of incidents like this most recent one, adding that many communities throughout the province are serviced by long-distribution or transmission radial lines like Tumbler Ridge is.

"We don't have the generator capacity to back up a whole community. In situations like this, what we tell our customers is, 'You need to be prepared if you are on a radial line feed, because we dont guarantee uninterrupted power.'"

He said having a backup power supply wouldn't necessarily have helped with the prolonged outages the town has experienced in the past few years. For example, he said the outage that occurred in February, 2010, was the result of problems with the substation and not an issue of supply. In that case BC Hydro did make upgrades including replacing air breakers with nitrogen, and installing a backup generator to support the substation, he said.

However, Conway said senior executives with the utility company will be meeting with officials from the District of Tumbler Ridge later this year to discuss the outage and the transmission line.