Hydro launches investigation into blizzard outage
Newfoundland and Labrador has launched a full investigation into how its power network collapsed for several hours during Friday's blizzard, even in areas that didn't receive a snowflake.
The Crown corporation's system across Newfoundland was put offline after equipment tripped at a terminal station near its generation station in Holyrood, as a blizzard was hitting full power on the Avalon Peninsula.
The outages somehow led to Hydro being unable to serve customers as far away as Newfoundland's west coast. At peak, power was lost to around 75,000 households, businesses and other customers.
Compounding Friday's problems was the inability to get crews to the terminal station at Holyrood because roads across the Avalon Peninsula were blocked with massive drifts of snow.
"We're quite aware this is one of the most major events that we in Newfoundland Hydro have had in quite a number of years," Hydro vice-president Jim Haynes told CBC News.
"I would suggest [it was] probably the biggest event since some ice storms that we had in the mid-90s."
While the problems in getting crews to Holyrood over the course of several hours sparked complaints in social media, Haynes said Hydro's top focus on Friday had to be safety — both to protect its workers, and to ensure that problems didn't get worse.
"We established a team to go back and investigate a whole host of things that happened on the system, and we'll cover off the technical issues and the people issues, and so on," he said.
The investigation will also cover reported failures at its remote sites at Cat Arm and Upper Salmon, which in both cases required crews to be sent in.
Hydro was able to restore generation of power on Friday, and could gradually add load to Newfoundland Power, which retails much of the power to customers in the province.
Power problems continued to be a headache through the weekend, but these tended to involve local problems, such as downed lines. Newfoundland Power said most, if not all, of the outages had been fixed by late Sunday night.