PEI

Some Islanders will be without power until Friday, says Maritime Electric

Maritime Electric had to deal with double trouble in its efforts to restore electricity to 10s of thousands of customers on Prince Edward Island.

Crews working through the night

Maritime Electric says about 25 power poles were damaged during the storm. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Some Islanders should expect to go through the night without power, says Maritime Electric.

Outages peaked at 80,000 customers for Maritime Electric, and all 7,000 Summerside Electric customers were also out. At about 8 p.m., Maritime Electric was reporting just over 34,000 outages.

Maritime Electric spokesperson Kim Griffin said crews are working through the night, but they don't expect to get power restored to all customers until at least Friday afternoon.

"It's been a very tough day for our customers," she said. "We are not going to have everyone back on tonight ... and we're really sorry about that and we are trying."

The high winds and heavy snow brought down power lines and poles. Then at about 9:15 a.m. NB Power stopped transmitting electricity through the underwater cable that connects the Island to the mainland. That connection was restored around 4 p.m.  

As many as 80,000 customers were without power on Thursday, says Maritime Electric. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

That cable is, under normal conditions, the source of most of the Island's electricity. That left Maritime Electric faced with both firing up on-Island generation and repairing extensive damage to its infrastructure.

  • See a full list of cancellations on Storm Centre.
  • Call in your cancellations to 1-877-236-9350.

"This is a very severe storm that's hit P.E.I., with the additional complication of having New Brunswick out," Griffin said.

Griffin said it is too early to say what areas will remain out.

Several communities across the Island have opened warming stations. 

They include the fire departments in St. Peters, Cardigan, Tyne Valley and Montague, as well as the Eastern Kings Community Centre, 27 Faye Fraser in Murray Harbour, Miltonvale Park Community Hall, Tignish Legion, Stratford Community Centre, North Shore Community Centre and the Kingston Legion. 

Some flights were cancelled at the Charlottetown airport. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Griffin said there appears to be no major damage to Maritime Electric's system. "We don't have any major infrastructure damage," she said. "We do have at this point I think 25 poles that have been down and certainly some wires so we're working to systematically restore power."

In Summerside, municipal services director Greg Gaudet​ said the wind was too gusty to operate the city's wind turbines. At 1 p.m. the province's wind energy generation web page showed the province was also producing no wind power.

Northumberland Ferries cancelled its sailings for the day and restrictions are in place on Confederation Bridge, with winds on the Northumberland Strait gusting close to 100 km/h.

Doug Wheatley says Maritime Electric has a big job on its hands. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Drivers are being warned to avoid downed power lines, and expect some traffic lights to be out.

Griffin said Maritime Electric appreciates calls about about broken power lines or poles.

"[Downed power lines are] really important to us. Those tend to be dealt with immediately. We classify those as emergencies, just so that we get to them to make sure that they're not energized and no one comes in contact with them."

The causeway at Brackley Beach was severely flooded Thursday afternoon. (Pat Martel/CBC)
A Maritime Electric crew at work where high voltage lines came down near a substation on Sherwood Road in Charlottetown. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

More P.E.I. news

With files from Laura Chapin

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