All it takes is one balloon to knock out power to multiple communities.
That was the case on New Year’s Eve when an errant balloon found its way on to a power line, tripping the breaker and leaving customers south of Robert Service Way in Whitehorse to Carcross, Teslin and southern lakes communities without power for close to two hours.
That was just one of 10 unplanned outages ATCO Electric Yukon contended with in December throughout the territory, up from five in December of 2021, Jay Massie, ATCO Electric Yukon’s vice president of northern development and Indigenous relations, stated in a Jan. 4 email.
Along with the possibility of a balloon, other objects or animals, at times, making their way onto a power line or into electrical equipment, there’s a long list of reasons power can be cut to residents, he said.
Collisions can also result in vehicles crashing into power poles, resulting in a power loss.
Extreme weather is the most common reason for an unplanned outage.
“Strong winds can topple trees onto power lines. Lightning may strike power poles, lines or other equipment,” Massie noted.
“Freezing rain, heavy snow or frost can build up on lines and break or damage them as seen in eastern Canada during Christmas this year.”
Equipment failure and unforeseen problems at generating stations are also among the reasons Yukoners lose power at times.
“Though we regularly inspect, maintain and update our equipment, occasionally cables, connectors, switches or other equipment fail and trigger an outage,” Massie said.
Efforts are made to ensure customers are notified in advance of any maintenance work that will interrupt service.
The unplanned outages in December affected a range of areas including various Whitehorse neighbourhoods, Golden Horn, Tagish, Carcross, Mary Lake, Takhini Hot Springs Road, Pelly Crossing and Watson Lake. The reasons, in addition to the balloon, related to extreme weather, as well as loss of supply and demand on the system.
While ATCO staff work to restore power as quickly as possible, residents are encouraged to have a 72-hour kit ready that will allow them to be self-sufficient for a full three days. A long list of potential supplies for the kit are available on ATCO Electric Yukon’s website.
When it comes to dealing with household pipes during a winter power outage, it’s suggested that residents leave a tap dripping slowly so water can move through the system.
If however, residents are advised the outage will be prolonged during the colder months, they may want to turn off the main tap after filling containers with water for household use, it was noted. Faucets should be open and toilets flushed to clear water out of the system, with an RV-type antifreeze put into the toilet and sink traps.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org