'We saw this coming': N.L. hydro official on power rationing

A Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro official says an unfortunate series of events is to blame for power rationing during this week's province-wide cold snap.

Broken generators, frigid temparatures created strain on grid, according to officials

A Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro official says an unfortunate series of events is to blame for power rationing during this week's province-wide cold snap. 

"We saw this coming, this week," said Rob Henderson, the vice-president of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. 

"So, we had put into place some additional plans because of where we were with our capacity, and made arrangements  with Corner Brook Pulp and Paper for them to adjust their paper production process to enable us to meet the higher demands."

Henderson said company officials knew that as temperatures plummeted, customers would be turning up their heat, and putting extra demand on the power supply.

Generators broken

However, said Henderson, the company has been missing about 175 megawatts of energy capacity because of broken generators. 

Gas turbines in Stephenville and Mount Pearl are broken, and a generator at Holyrood is only running at a one-third capacity. 

Henderson said if those generators had been working, the company would not have had to resort to rolling blackouts.  

"We'd be into a tight situation, but we wouldn't be into rotating feeders," said Henderson. 

Henderson said the company doesn't build in extra energy for situations like the frigid temperatures of the past few days. 

"We don't build the system to meet extreme circumstances, because it becomes very costly," said Henderson. "So what we do is we plan our generation to meet what we'd call a normal cold winter day, and what we'd normally experience."

Minister wants answers

Meanwhile, Derrick Dalley, Newfoundland and Labrador's natural resources minister, said once the power situation stabilizes, he would like to talk with utility officials to figure out how to prevent these problems from happening again. 

"We want to see that the right measures are being taken," said Dalley. "And if there's any challenges or issues that we as government can intercede and help support them, then we'd be willing to do so."

Dalley says he understands the frustration from people over losing power.

Henderson said Hydro officials will review what has happened to make plans for next winter.

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