2 storms cost NSP $2.2M
Outside help nearly half of overall bill
Nova Scotia Power spent $2.2 million in capital costs coping with a hurricane and a severe windstorm last year, according to documents filed with the provincial regulator.
Nearly half of the money was spent on outside crews that were brought in to help during Hurricane Earl on Sept. 4 and a storm on Dec. 13.
The utility also spent $105,431 on "overtime labour" for Earl and another $227,722 for the windstorm.
The information is contained in documents filed with the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board on Tuesday. The power company is required to notify the board of its unbudgeted costs.
Nova Scotia Power breaks storm costs into capital and operating. Capital includes repairing poles and other structures, while operating costs covers downed wires.
The utility says over the past five years, it spends on average $8.7 million a year repairing damage caused by storms. It doesn't have a breakdown of the total costs for 2010.
Nova Scotia Power says the increased cost for contractors is a reflection of the way it responds to severe storms.
"We've changed the way we deal with these weather events — now we pre-stage crews around the province. That shows up in terms of higher costs for contractors, but it also results in a quicker restoration time for our customers," said spokeswoman Jennifer Parker.
Parker said it took four days to fully restore power after Hurricane Earl, compared to 14 days after Hurricane Juan in 2003.
Earl left roads littered with fallen trees. About 220,000 homes and businesses lost power at the height of the storm.
Eighteen trucks and 36 linemen from New Brunswick headed to Nova Scotia the next day to help. Most customers got their power back soon after, but two days after the storm, about 1,000 customers from Pictou to Cape Breton were still waiting.
The storm on Dec. 13 led to rolling power outages. More than 46,000 customers were without power by the end of the day.