Several communities in New Brunswick have spent consecutive years at the top of an NB Power list of most vulnerable areas for power outages, CBC News has learned. 

A list obtained through a Right to Information Act request shows that some areas have suffered an average of 17 outages a year, while others have placed near top of the list of most vulnerable areas multiple years in a row. 

Bradley Derrick,

Bradley Derrick, a Canterbury resident, said power outages in the southern community have been so common in recent years that many people have purchased generators. (CBC)

Canterbury has placed within the top three areas most susceptible to power outages for the last five years.

There was an average of 10.1 power interruptions to customers fed by that substation in 2015, which was the fewest in three years. Meanwhile, Canterbury, a small community about 20 kilometres south of Woodstock, experienced 12.3 outages in 2013.

Bradley Derrick, a local resident, said outages in the Canterbury area have been so common in recent years that he and many have taken power into their own hands.  

"I've got a generator," said Derrick.

"My mother's got one up there. It was out a lot there for a while. Every time you turn around. You'd come home and it was blinking — the microwave — and it'd be off. You'd start the shower — or start the stove and it would go off." 

Laura Roussell

Laura Roussell, co-owner of Russell's Store in Canterbury, said the frequent power outages are hard on her business. (CBC)

The frequent outages are also difficult for businesses.

Laura Roussell, co-owner of Russell's Store in Canterbury, said the loss of power causes her business's computer system to go down.

"It will take about half an hour before that will comes back up even after the power comes back on," she said.

"So it's hard on the computers and it's hard on business." 

Other communities that have often consistently made the list of most vulnerable substations, include:

  • Bayside
  • Jemseg
  • Campobello
  • Fredericton Junction
  • Charlo. 

The outages were reported using the System Average Interruption Frequency Index (SAIFI) to indicate the average number of interruptions customers fed from a substation would experience.  

Substation 6404, which is commonly known as the Great Falls substation, saw the most interruptions. The Bathurst-area substation posted an average of 17.3 interruptions to its 74 customers in 2013.  

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NB Power defends record

CBC News requested an interview with someone from the utility to ask why many communities showed up on the list year after year.

Marie-Andree Bolduc

Marie-Andrée Bolduc, a NB Power spokesperson, issued an email statement that the power outages are getting less frequent and are shorter across the province. (CBC)

NB Power officials declined an interview, but Marie-Andrée Bolduc, a company spokesperson, issued a statement saying the outages are getting less frequent and are shorter.

Bolduc said there was a 40-per-cent decrease in the length of outages and a 19-per-cent drop in the number of outages in the final six months of 2015 compared to the final six months of 2014.

"This represents a substantial improvement in customer reliability in the early winter months as it means there were significantly fewer outages for New Brunswick homes during this period, even with some of the ice storms we have experienced," Bolduc said.

Meanwhile, Derrick said he has noticed fewer outages in Canterbury recently, but he's attributed that to a milder winter and tree-trimming that has taken place along the main route leading into the village. 

"Be nice if that was done before," said Derrick.

"But it does seem to be helping."

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