Mendenhall outage still a mystery

Mendenhall is one power-hungry neighbourhood. In the last year the power consumption of the tiny rural subdivision, 70 kilometres west of Whitehorse, has jumped by 15 to 20 per cent.

Mendenhall is one power-hungry neighbourhood

In the last year the power consumption of the tiny rural subdivision, 70 kilometres west of Whitehorse, has jumped by 15 to 20 per cent.

In contrast, electricity demand for rest of the territory only rose by a few per cent last year.

It was so much power that in December the transformer that services the neighbourhood blew, leaving the entire population of less than 100 people without power.

“For the majority it was out 16 to 18 hours I believe, but there were two lots that lost it for probably close to 30 hours,” said Joyia Chakungal, the president of the Mendenhall Community Association.

At the time the temperature had dropped to below -30 C.

While many homes in the community have wood heat or back up generators, Chakungal said one of her neighbours was left without heat for a week because of problems with their boiler related to the outage. As a result, their pipes froze, leaving them without water as well.

“This was mostly a lesson in make sure to check your generators before you go into the winter season,” she said. “There’s nothing worse than having a power outage only to find out that your fuel line on your generator is broken.”

Yukon Energy brought in temporary generators to restore power, and just before Christmas it replaced the broken 100-KVA transformer with two new ones, effectively doubling the capacity.

“We’ve been monitoring it, especially when it was particularly cold we were out there every day, and haven’t had any issues and outages or anything,” said Janet Patterson, spokesperson for Yukon Energy.

The utility is still investigating the reason why the neighborhood’s power consumption has jumped so much in the last several months.

“I don’t want to leave the impression that we’re blaming anybody. We’re not. All we’re trying to do is make sure we have enough power for people there,” said Patterson.