A buildup of ice and frost is responsible for the massive power outages across southern and eastern Saskatchewan on Tuesday, according to SaskPower’s CEO.
Intermittent power outages started in some communities over the weekend, but a series of line “trips” at Boundary Dam, Shands and Poplar River turned out the lights in most Regina neighbourhoods along with communities like Moose Jaw, Estevan, Wakaw and others. The power stations tripped off because major transmission lines went down, causing severe instability in the grid.
“The ice was building up to about four to five inches in diameter in some cases (on the power lines),” CEO Mike Marsh told Gormley on Wednesday. “That causes tons of additional weight on the very top line of a transmission tower.”
Hundreds of workers were out at problem sites throughout the day repairing the damage, and most power was restored by 10 p.m. although communities reported new outages Wednesday morning.
Crews from Manitoba also assisted with some repairs along Saskatchewan’s eastern border.
“Mother nature threw a curve ball at the province,” Marsh said. “I think we did a very commendable job in trying to keep people on and to get people back on through this event.”
He noted “changing weather patterns” in the last decade have created more issues for some of SaskPower’s older infrastructure.
“We’re going to have to take a hard look at some of the standards these older lines were designed to,” he said.
Marsh, who has worked for SaskPower for 27 years, added Tuesday’s power outage was one of the worst he’s ever witnessed.
“This is by far and away the largest system outage we’ve seen in the last 20 years,” he said.