Storm damage to hydro system could cost record $100M or more, Manitoba Hydro says

The damage to Manitoba Hydro's power grid after a fall snowstorm that hammered the southern half of the province could cost more than $100 million to repair.

Public utility says actual cost won't be known for weeks

More than 1000 hydro workers are in the field doing repairs after the snowstorm last week. (Submitted by Manitoba Hydro)

The damage to Manitoba Hydro's power grid after a fall snowstorm that hammered the southern half of the province could cost more than $100 million to repair.

Bruce Owen, a spokesperson for Manitoba Hydro said the damage to the wood poles, transmission towers and power lines was unprecedented.

"The magnitude of the damage from last weekend's storm and the challenge of restoring all customers is unparalleled. Approximately 1,000 people have been deployed, huge quantities of machinery, equipment and supplies are now in the field," Owen said. 

That cost, though still an estimation at this time, will be substantial, he said.

"We can estimate right now the damage of this restoration is looking between 80 and 100 million and perhaps more as we go forward," Owen said.

According to Manitoba Hydro, more than 1,000 people from Manitoba Hydro, SaskPower, Ontario's Hydro One and Minnesota Power are in the field doing repairs around the clock.

Manitoba Hydro workers fix a poll near Ashern, Man. (Submitted by Manitoba Hydro)

As of Sunday at 2 p.m., about 2,800 customers were still without power.

That number fell to less than 1,700 by 4 p.m. Manitoba Hydro indicated in a press release that the majority of affected customers were in the Ashern area, including the First Nations along the Dauphin River, which drains Lake Manitoba into Lake Winnipeg.

Nearly 4,000 hydro poles were broken across the province, and 800 kilometres of power lines were taken down by strong winds and falling trees and branches last week. The Crown corporation said about one-third of wooden poles damaged in the storm have been replaced.

Most of the remaining damage is located in remote areas that can be difficult to reach, Manitoba Hydro said in a press release on Sunday. (Submitted by Manitoba Hydro)

"The sheer volume of work being accomplished daily is now in line with the construction of the Keeyask Generating Station. The difference is our restoration response was ramped up in only a few days," Owen said.

"It's an indication of how severe the damage was and the need for our response."

It's not known at this point if rate payers will be affected.

The City of Winnipeg hasn't released firm numbers for how much its clean-up will be, but it estimates it will be in the tens of millions of dollars.


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