Storm Arthur: UARB reviewing NSP response to outages

Nova Scotia Power must tell the Utility and Review Board (UARB) what happened with outages during and after tropical storm Arthur.

Tory MLA calls for public hearings across province

It's extreme damage like this in Baxters Harbour, N.S., that left people without power in Nova Scotia. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Nova Scotia Power must tell the Utility and Review Board (UARB) what happened with outages during and after tropical storm Arthur.

It hasn't been decided yet whether there will be a formal public hearing.

Energy Minister Andrew Younger is open to having a public hearing. 

"If it becomes necessary to do that, we'll ask the board to do so, but the reality is the people who are most affected by this were up in the Valley and down towards Yarmouth and so forth, and getting into Halifax could be a burden for those people anyway," he said.

Eddie Orrell, a Progressive Conservative MLA, disagrees.

"I think they should have at least a few public hearings, especially in the hardest hit areas down in the Valley for instance, where people were without power for up to a week," he said.

Orrell says hearing directly from those people will have the most impact.

In a letter to the president of Nova Scotia Power, the UARB asks for "the cause of the outages, what failed, an outline of the restoration efforts" as well as an "explanation as to why it took the time it did to re-establish service."

Report to address four issues

The board asks NSP for a report addressing four issues:

  1. The cause of the power outages, what failed, an outline of the restoration efforts, and an explanation as to why it took the time it did to reestablish service; 
  2. Details with respect to the communication system failures that appear to have taken place during the course of the storm, particularly in light of the significant investigations and expenditures which were made on NSP's system following a similar failure during Hurricane Juan and the storm of Nov. 13 and 14 in 2004. NSP should outline any action it is taking, or proposes to take, to correct the problems; 
  3. An outline of NSP's current practices with respect to vegetation management, including, specifically, in the affected areas, and whether those practices need to change as a consequence of the failures during post-tropical storm Arthur; 
  4. Any external benchmarks or metrics by which NSP's performance may be judged. 

The utility must also explain why its communications system failed.

The UARB also wants to know about NSP’s efforts to keep trees and branches off its power lines.

NSP has until Aug. 19 to reply. 

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