News

Nova Scotia Power – FAQ re Recent Power Outages

 

September 13, 2018

Below are answers to questions about the recent power outages, and Nova Scotia Power's contract with the Town of Lunenburg. Thank you to NSPI for the information.

What are some of the causes of power outages? 

Many outages are caused by weather events, and the biggest cause is trees and branches contacting power lines, usually from strong winds. Outages can also be caused by lightning strikes, heavy snow or ice buildup on lines and equipment, high winds, hurricanes or other extreme weather conditions. 

Why has the Town of Lunenburg had outages this summer? 

Since the beginning of June there have been four larger outages – all unrelated – affecting customers in the Town of Lunenburg and customers on the South Shore between Mahone Bay and East LaHave, as follows: 

June 15 

• Affected: 477 customers in the Town of Lunenburg.

• Cause: Tree on powerline; restored in less than 2 hours. 

August 30 

• Affected: Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Riverport utility customers and 1,900 NSPI customers.

• Cause: Lightning at substation; restored in less than 4 hours by switching the majority of customers to a power supply from another substation. A subsequent 10 minute outage occurred once the work at the substation was completed to switch customers back to their regular supply source. 

September 9 

• Affected: Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Riverport utility customers and 1,900 NSPI customers.

• Cause: Customer cut a tree that fell on transmission line; restored in less than 2 hours. 

September 11 

• Affected: Lunenburg, Mahone Bay, Riverport utility customers and 1,900 NSPI customers.

• Cause: Lightning at substation, the majority of customers were restored in less than 4 hours by switching to a power supply from another substation. A subsequent 10 minute outage occurred September 12 once the work at the substation was completed to switch customers back to their regular supply source.   

What can you do to protect against lightning strikes? 

We can and do implement system protections designed to minimize the impact and damage that can be caused by lightning.  There are protective devices in the substation designed to isolate the equipment and prevent extensive damage from overloaded electrical circuits, which can cause excessive heat and potentially fire. This protective equipment also reduces the risk of injury to our personnel when work needs to take place in the substation, which contains high voltage electricity. 

What can be done to protect against fallen trees?  

We have been cutting and trimming trees in the Lunenburg area over the past few weeks to further enhance the reliability of the transmission line that serves these customers. In the outage involving the customer tree trimming, we strongly encourage customers to keep safe clearance from powerlines when doing work around their property including tree trimming. Work near our powerlines can be dangerous – we recommend engaging a certified contractor or ask us to take a look before trimming trees near our lines.  

Generally we advise a minimum 6-metre distance – if work must take place closer than that, we ask customers to contact us in advance and we will help them establish safe clearance.  A few more handy tree trimming tips: www.nspower.ca/treetrimming     

What is your new agreement with the Town of Lunenburg? 

In June 2018, we entered into a service agreement with the Town of Lunenburg to maintain their electrical equipment. We have always supplied power to the town, which was then distributed to their customers on their own equipment and we have been engaged to maintain it.  Additionally, our staff will perform services such as meter reading and wiring inspections. Customers in the Town continue to put all service requests for connections and disconnections, and outage reports through the Town, and bills also continue to come from the Town to its customers. 

What steps do you take to maintain Nova Scotia’s power infrastructure? 

We work hard every day to minimize the risk of outages by making significant investments in new technologies, equipment upgrades and replacements, and even tree trimming to help make the electrical system more reliable – approximately $100 million annually. But outages can and do happen for various reasons, including factors that are both in and out of our control.   

Thank you.