Dump truck tears through power, telephone lines

A municipal dump truck tore through telephone and power lines with its elevated dump bed Monday night. The truck was leaving the Whitehorse public works building on Fourth Avenue when it damaged the lines.

A municipal dump truck tore through telephone and power lines with its elevated dump bed Monday night.

The truck was leaving the Whitehorse public works building on Fourth Avenue when it damaged the lines.

Telephone service in the building and the surrounding neighbourhood was cut until the morning, said Northwestel spokesperson Anne Kennedy.

“We had two technicians working there all night,” said Kennedy.

A truck also slapped two powerlines together and caused a brief power outage.

The outage didn’t damage any electrical equipment, said Jay Massie, spokesperson for the Yukon Electrical Company Limited.

“(Northwestel) had damage and they had wires on the ground,” said Massie.

The accident put the north end of downtown Whitehorse in the dark for a few seconds.

The blackout followed a similar incident Saturday morning, when the lights went spotty in Riverdale and downtown Whitehorse.

Yukon Electrical, the Yukon’s main power distributor, received reports of lights flickering, but couldn’t figure out where the disruptions were, said Massie.

Computer records indicate an event happened, but can’t pinpoint where.

The Yukon Energy Corporation, which manages most of the Yukon’s power generation, couldn’t find any problems either.

“It’s an odd one for us,” said Massie. “I’d like to say that it’s a fault if the lights went on and off like that.”

A much longer outage plunged the entire southern Yukon into the dark last Thursday afternoon.

“We had reports up by the Kopper King of a large flash,” said Massie.

“It looks like a bird bridged the wires at one point.”

This time, the breaker didn’t close after the presumed bird culprit caused the fault.

The power grid’s large breakers aren’t meant to close, said Massie.

The breaker was attached to a substation servicing half of Porter Creek, the north end of downtown and the airport.

“It’s such a big load that they are not meant to close because that can cause more problems,” said Massie.

But the fault shouldn’t have taken down the entire southern Yukon grid, which stretches from Haines Junction to Whitehorse to Faro.

“When the load was lost, it caused a system disturbance on the grid,” said Massie.

That disturbance should have been cordoned off from the rest of the grid to prevent the cascading effect, but the protective devices aren’t perfect.

They need to be rearranged every few years when loads increase or decrease throughout a grid.

Yukon Energy is currently studying its system to make the protective devices more efficient, said Massie.

The public utility has already hired its consultant. And Yukon Electrical, which is owned by Alberta-based ATCO, is waiting to provide some input.

“This thing is going to be $100,000 when it’s all said and done,” said Massie.

Contact James Munson at

jamesm@yukon-news.com