yukon remians in the dark

At this point, we don’t know whether to be angry or alarmed. But we’re leaning towards angry.

At this point, we don’t know whether to be angry or alarmed.

But we’re leaning towards angry.

On Sunday, the southern Yukon suffered a blackout.

The Aishihik hydro generating facility collapsed, triggering a cascade that pulled down the whole Whitehorse-Aishihik-Faro electrical grid.

Phones went dead. Buildings cooled off and, in at least one case, some pipes burst.

Such things happen. Heck, nobody died. And, generally, people took it in stride — lighting candles, playing games and enjoying the peace and quiet.

Yukon Energy crews restored power before things got ugly.

No harm, no foul, right?

Right.

Except … a power failure in the depths of a Yukon winter is always disconcerting, especially during a cold snap.

And this blackout ranked among the worst in the territory’s history.

Why?

Beyond safety issues, Yukon businesses lost a considerable amount of money. And so did some employees, money that could prove difficult to make up over the next pay period.

So it has inconvenienced some folks. Cost them a few coins, if nothing else.

Those people have a right to ask why it happened. And they have a right to an answer.

Yukon Energy Corp. hasn’t provided one.

It has admitted a problem with Aishihik. Fine.

It has explained the cascade that pulled down the rest of the southern Yukon. Great.

We have an idea why the power was knocked out.

But the Crown-owned utility hasn’t explained why it took, in some cases, more than 10 hours to restore power to the rest of the Yukon.

And that’s where the problem lies.

See, on Monday the utility could operate the whole grid — peak and off peak — without Aishihik.

So why did it take so long to fire up the diesel generators and restore power on Sunday?

In several follow-up interviews, Yukon Energy said there was absolutely no problem restoring power on Sunday. That everything worked according to plan.

We suggest five hours is too long a response time.

Those who know a little bit more about such things have told us that, when it mothballed its diesel generators, the utility also laid off many of its experienced diesel technicians, leaving it ill-equipped to fire up the equipment in the event of an emergency.

They have also suggested that it should have taken no more than two hours to incrementally bring the power back online to the whole southern Yukon.

At the very least, the fact a Whitehorse-based YEC employee was seen scrounging up a generator and hooking it up to his house an hour into Sunday’s blackout suggests those on the inside knew something big was amiss.

And it was. This was one of the worst outages in the territory’s history.

Yukon Energy should explain, in detail, what went wrong on Sunday afternoon in Whitehorse.

The power supply has been spotty for the last year — blackouts, surges and brownouts have been more frequent than they should be.

So something at the utility isn’t up to snuff.

The public owns the utility. The public has a right to know what’s going on.

We don’t mind being plunged into darkness. But we get angry when we’re kept in the dark. (RM)

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