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FORT NELSON, B.C. – The Northern Rockies Regional Municipality has questions that were left unanswered after a meeting with BC Hydro staff.
Thursday’s meeting took place after a 12-hour power outage last week in Fort Nelson. Some businesses had to close their doors as the municipality waited for BC Hydro workers to travel from Fort St. John to fix a downed powerline. The outage affected around 894 customers from 5 a.m. on June 11th until around 4:30 p.m.
“That meeting was unsuccessful and they weren’t prepared to make the concessions that we thought are necessary for a town of 3600 people to ensure that we have reliable electrical service,” said Mayor Gary Foster.
Now, the municipality is setting up a meeting with BC Hydro’s Vice President of Operations., which Foster believes will result in a positive outcome for the NRRM.
BC Hydro has a crew in Fort Nelson that has been sent to conduct work outside of the town, said Foster. The current two-man crew was in Fort St. John working on the Site C dam during last week’s outage.
Foster says a couple of years ago the company moved crews around to utilize them on different projects. At that time, BC Hydro agreed with the municipality when service level issues were brought up. The company approved a two-man crew to be stationed in the municipality during the summer, with the full crew available in the winter.
“I’m not sure what happened to that promise, whether BC Hydro believes that promises are only good for six months or what.”
During the June 11th outage, emergency crews had to secure the area around the downed line, tieing up fire crews for eight hours. Foster said if an emergency was to happen, their resources would have been spread too thin to take care of both incidents.
A hybrid line went down in the municipality’s industrial area, affecting businesses and their staff, including food stores, gas stations, and the municipal office.
“It only took about half an hour to restore the power, but it was over 12 hours before they got back to town to complete that work. So this is totally unacceptable.”
Foster said he is concerned with the company trying to maximize its workforce at the expense of workers in the community.
“These businesses cannot afford to lose a day. More importantly, a lot of these people who work in those businesses are not paid a lot of money, their minimum wage or a little better.”
“This is not the service level that BC Hydro is supposed to be delivering to its customers.”
While the NRRM continues to press BC Hydro, Foster recommends concerned residents reach out to MLA Dan Davies. This way the politician can inform the province of the issues taking place in the town.
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