Circuit breaker failure turns out lights from Taylor to Rose Prairie

The Fort St. John substation during yesterday's outage. Photo by Chris Newton

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The failure of a circuit breaker at BC Hydro’s Fort St. John substation was what led to over 16,000 North Peace residents being put in the dark yesterday.

The outage happened at around 1:30 yesterday afternoon, and caused a power outage in Fort St. John, Taylor, Charlie Lake, Montney, and as far away as Rose Prairie and Goodlow.

BC Hydro spokesperson Bob Gammer says that the outage occurred when a circuit breaker at the substation was tripped. The tripped breaker caused protective equipment to engage, opening the circuit to a transformer and causing the lights to go out. Though there are other transformers at the substation, one that would have been able to divert the load was undergoing maintenance and not in service. After arriving, Hydro crews were able to activate another circuit breaker to re-energize the protected transformer and bring the grid back online after three hours and ten minutes.

As for what caused the circuit breaker to trip in the first place, Gammer says that crews haven’t discovered the cause, but did say that there was leaking oil discovered near the tripped breaker. He added that the circumstances of yesterday outage, while an unusual occurrence do happen, and that Hydro should be able to find out what caused the breaker to trip in the near future.