More extreme weather causing more power outages, BC Hydro report says

  • More extreme weather causing more power outages, BC Hydro report says

More extreme weather causing more power outages, BC Hydro report says

The Crown corporation says storms and extreme weather caused 265 per cent more power outages in 2017 than in 2013.

Improved meteorology models: this information provides greater insight into where and when a storm might hit so BC Hydro can ensure crews are ready to respond quickly.

BC Hydro says the province has three times more trees per kilometre of line than anywhere else in North America, and falling trees and branches are the leading cause of outages.

"The number of storm events that BC Hydro has responded to has actually tripled within the last five years", spokesperson Kevin Aquino said.

BC Hydro says there were about 323,000 outages in 2013, compared to 1.18 million previous year.

Acquino notes that 95 per cent rate is up from the 92 per cent seen back in 2013, giving credit to technology. This allows dispatchers to confirm an outage, investigate, and send a crew.

In a report entitled, "Storm warning: The impact B.C.'s wild weather is having on British Columbians and their power", they found that storms are becoming more severe as a direct result of climate change, which also leads to more damage to BC Hydro's electrical system as well as outages for customers.

New mobile dispatch tools: these tools communicate via satellite and help information from the field get to its operations centre faster and more often - providing more timely updates for customers.

In the last weekend of December, 2017, an ice storm hit the Fraser Valley, which caused trees to fall on power lines and knock down power poles.

But despite the huge increase in outages, BC Hydro said its crews are still able to restore power within about 24 hours for the vast majority of homes and businesses, thanks to year-round preparations and a team of in-house meteorologists tracking weather systems for adverse conditions.

"A recent survey we commissioned found that almost half of British Columbians aren't prepared for power outages, and what we would like to recommend is that customers should have an emergency kit with a flashlight, batteries, first aid kit, and water and [ready-to-eat, non-perishable] food", said Aquino.

"If you need a visual for what 10 metres looks like, it's about the size of a city bus".