Vandalism caused Sunday blackout: Yukon Energy

The RCMP is investigating possible sabotage of the Yukon’s hydro grid after Sunday night’s 4.5-hour power blackout.

The RCMP is investigating possible sabotage of the Yukon’s hydro grid after Sunday night’s 4.5-hour power blackout.

The utility has found evidence that the failed insulators, which caused the blackout, had been damaged by rifle fire.

About a kilometre away from the bullet-damaged insulators, Yukon Energy officials also identified evidence of further rifle damage to a high-voltage conductor line.

The damage to the high-voltage line did not contribute to Sunday’s blackout.

“The insulator may well not have been damaged on Sunday,” said Dave MacDonald, vice-president of operations and engineering at Yukon Energy.

Sunday night’s blackout may have been a culmination of the rifle damage as well as cold and moisture resulting from Sunday afternoon’s brief snowfall, said MacDonald.

If the failure resulting from the vandalism had occurred in winter, “the results could have been a lot worse,” noted Yukon Energy spokesperson Janet Patterson in a release.

“This is certainly not the first time that insulators have been shot out,” said MacDonald.

While it is not an endemic problem, “it happens a lot more than it should,” he added.

“We’re really depending on the public to help us in [preventing] these circumstances,” said MacDonald, “we can’t be monitoring every foot of every line.”   

The police investigation is just beginning, said RCMP Const. Graham Belak.

“The general public is going to have to provide a lot of help on this end.”

The damaged insulators had no connection to Tuesday morning’s hour-long blackout, which was caused by a minor, non-insulator equipment problem along Quartz Road, said MacDonald.

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