Downtown Whitehorse suffers two blackouts in two days

About 1,600 Yukoners in Whitehorse's downtown core were in the dark twice over two days on Wednesday and Thursday.

About 1,600 Yukoners in Whitehorse’s downtown core were in the dark twice over two days on Wednesday and Thursday.

ATCO Electric Yukon says a problem with the equipment at the Shipyards substation caused the downtown to go dark starting at 5:50 p.m. Wednesday.

Homes and businesses from Front Street to Sixth Ave and Second Avenue in front of Superstore to the S.S. Klondike, lost power. Nearly half of customers had power back on by 6:40 p.m. All remaining customers had power back on by 7:17 p.m.

Yesterday afternoon, the power went out again. The company says a burnt cap on one of the gear switches at the substation is likely to blame.

There are 12 of these insulator caps on each switch gear in the Shipyards substation. The caps are meant to cover and protect the high voltage power lines that are the main power source for downtown Whitehorse.

“During our initial investigation on Thursday morning, one of these caps was found to be burnt. We believe that’s what caused the outage on Wednesday night. Why it burned, we weren’t able to tell for sure,” said ATCO’s Stephanie Cunha in an e-mail.

“Finding this, our crews decided to replace not only the burnt cap on Thursday morning, but to also take the proactive step to replace the remaining 11 caps. We believed that by doing this, we would reduce the risk of a future outage in downtown Whitehorse caused by the same thing that caused Wednesday’s outage.”

Replacing the first 11 of 12 caps on the switch gear went according to plan.

“When crews went to replace the last cap, it also burned and caused the outage that customers in downtown Whitehorse would have experienced Thursday afternoon,” Cunha said.

The power went out at 12:40 p.m. and most of the customers had their lights back on my 2 p.m.

Crews will continue to work on repairs at the substation today and over the next couple of days, Cunha said.

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