The Public Utilities Board (PUB) released an interim report Friday on its investigation into the power outages and supply issues that left much of the province in darkness earlier this year.

Many of the concerns addressed in the PUB report echoed those outlined in a previous external interim review conducted by the Liberty Consulting Group in April.

After the widespread power outages from January 2 to 8, the board set out to investigate and report on the circumstances surrounding them.

The interim report focused on immediate actions needed to reduce the risk of similar events on the Island Interconnected System over the 2014-2016 period, stating there remains a "continuing and unacceptably high risk of outages" until 2017.

The interim report finds the January 2014 outages were the result of two separate issues.

According to the PUB, there was a lack of available generation capacity to meet customer demand on the island. This resulted in the request for customer conservation and rotating power outages on January 2 and 3.

Subsequently, there were failures on Newfoundland Hydro’s bulk transmission system causing further widespread outages beginning on January 4

The PUB identified a number of contributing causes to this.

It points to Hydro's deferral of testing and preventive maintenance, and the timing and execution of repairs. This includes work on the transformer and circuit breaker at Sunnyside, which failed and caught fire, and decisions on the timing of work at the Hardwoods and Stephenville gas turbines.

Hydro also failed to ensure the availability of qualified resources and failed to procure critical spare parts for its generation assets.

The PUB's report outlines interim findings only; final conclusions as to the causes and contributing factors will not be possible until the PUB’s final report, slated to be released this fall.

Immediate next steps

The board identified some key priority actions that Hydro should complete by December 1 of this year, in preparation for the next winter season.

It calls for Hydro to make changes in its approach for load forecasting and generation planning to include greater sensitivity to weather.

The PUB said Hydro should complete outstanding testing and necessary maintenance and proceed with necessary work on the emergency generation system.

Investigation continues

The PUB’s investigation will continue throughout 2014, with public presentations to be heard later this spring.

A series of public presentations will be held at locations throughout the province.

The deadline for expressions of interest in presenting at these sessions is May 21.