After dealing with 80 ground-shifting incidents in the last year, including 10 fires, SaskPower is now confident the fire risk has been eliminated on a majority of homes in Regina.
Since last July, SaskPower crews and electrical contractors have inspected and replaced wiring and small boxes on 17,000 homes — mainly older ones from the late 60s and early 70s — at risk of fire from pressure on copper wiring stretched by ground shifting.
The copper wiring was identified as the main fire risk when ground shifting stretched and pulled smaller boxes away from homes. Most homes are now built with aluminum wiring which will simply melt and cause a power outage when it’s stretched, but it doesn’t carry the risk of fire.
“We feel confident that we have found the majority of the ones that we know were causing the fires,” said Ryan Blair, operations and maintenance manager for SaskPower.
He noted there are some newer houses that may have repairs using splices of copper wire which could create a fire hazard with continued ground shifting. He also noted SaskPower crews sent out to read meters on houses are also on the look-out for potential issues to report.
Homeowners who notice their meter box tilted or twisted away from the house from ground shifting are still encouraged to call and report to SaskPower for an immediate inspection.
The smaller meter boxes are being replaced with large boxes with more wire to allow slack to ease the pressure of continued ground-shifting through this extremely dry weather.
The long-term plan is for SaskPower to inspect every area of the city including 4,000 homes in 2018.
While other areas of the province are experiencing ground shifting, Blair explained Regina is considered to be at a particularly high risk for issues with the wires.