Behind the Scenes of Power Restoration: how we work on continuously getting better
March 29 2021, 10:00 AM
We know how difficult it can be when your power is out. That’s why we continue to look at ways to improve our processes so we can be there for our customers when they need us the most.
NB Power is responsible for making sure customers have the power they need when they need it, in good weather and bad. We take this responsibility very seriously. With more than 20,000 km of distribution lines and close to 7,000 km of transmission lines, our electricity infrastructure covers a vast expanse of terrain.
Our province and our infrastructure is increasingly subject to severe weather brought on by climate change. Hurricanes, ice storms and two of the worst floods in the past 50 years are some of the extreme weather events that New Brunswick has faced in the past decade. As storms become more intense and cause major disruptions in many parts of the province, NB Power’s storm preparedness effort, conducted in collaboration with partners, has taken on greater significance and urgency.
Every year, we collaborate with the province’s Emergency Measures Organization, the Canadian Red Cross, and other partners, to emphasize the importance of being ready for storms for New Brunswickers. This approach is considered a best practice and aligns with provincial and federal agencies who adopted the integrated emergency response model.
We also have an Emergency Response Plan in place. This plan helps to ensure consistent preparedness, response, communications, and recovery practices across our entire organization. This approach in any emergency response is effective, efficient and ensures the safety of customers, employees, contractors, and the public.
Our Emergency Planning Management team is centralized for proactive decision-making and strategic planning ahead of, and during, an event. For each event, we set up local centres in affected regions to monitor outages, realign crews and reduce restoration wait times for customers.
Vegetation management is also an essential part of reliability efforts: pruning trees, removing brush, and clearing power lines help keep them free to deliver safe, reliable electricity. In the last fiscal year, we invested $5.8 million in inspecting and clearing over 1,200 km of distribution lines. We invested a further $4.4 million inspecting over 2,300 km of transmission right of ways and subsequently treating approximately 1,400 kms of those right of ways. In addition, we invested over $62 million in our transmission rebuild program, completing several life extension and storm hardening projects.
Our annual maintenance program also helps identify and respond to issues. 20 per cent of our utility poles are inspected annually, as part of a five-year cycle. A maintenance plan is established for aging poles, and our field crews perform the work to maintain the safe operation of our electrical grid. Every spring a system review of power quality is performed to establish short and long-term goals for our power supply equipment. From the reviews, NB Power then establishes a detailed plan for the following year.
These are just some of the things we do to provide electricity safely, in good weather and bad, for all New Brunswickers.
What happened yesterday to cause an all-day outage in Moncton and Riverview?
January 21 2018, 15:26 PM
Early morning yesterday a large number of customers in the Moncton and Riverview areas were impacted by a transmission outage. Many customers have asked us why this outage happened and why did it take so long to restore power.
Restoration work requires a sequence of events that must take place in a specific order before the next task can occur. Many things can affect the timing of the sequence, like access to location, needing specialized equipment etc.
In yesterday’s case, an equipment fault happened in a remote location at an intersection of two transmission lines feeding three separate substations. Transmission lines feed the distribution substations that feed the distribution lines which in turn, feed into homes and businesses.
A transmission outage – like we saw on Saturday – is more difficult to address and results in larger outages. Crews were dispatched but given the remote location of the fault, more time was needed to get to the site, find the fault, bring in specialized equipment like off-road machinery, excavator, crane etc.
The initial plan was to make necessary repairs at the source of the issue, so crews outlined a plan to make the repairs, obtained work permits, brought in the heavy machinery and resources. Unfortunately, crews ran into some difficulty executing the original plan and decided to manually reconfigure the transmission circuit, isolating the damaged portion and try and energize the transmission line from another source. Once this work was done on the transmission lines, crews then needed to focus on restoring the impacted substations.
Transmission lines need to be energized before the distribution lines can be re-energized. While crews were working on the transmission lines, other crews were working to get the distribution lines ready to pick up the load once re-energized.
During this time our website displayed incorrect information regarding customers’ estimated restoration times and total number of customers impacted by the outage. We apologise for this. In cold winter months, when the power has been out for a long period of time, we can experience what is called “cold load pickup” meaning the grid is overloaded when it’s restored, and by design in order to protect itself from damage, will go out again. Some of our customers may have experienced one of these “cold load pickup” outages yesterday. Most customers were restored by 9 pm last evening.
As you can see, power restoration is not a simple task but we can assure you our crews were working as fast as possible to rectify the situation and we absolutely understand this was not an easy situation for customers, especially in winter months. We thank you for your patience.
NB Power restoration update
May 19 2017, 17:24 PM
At approximately 9:30 p.m. on May 18, 2017, a powerful thunder and lightning storm bringing strong winds swept through the Acadian Peninsula. Environment Canada is saying that winds may have hit 190 kilometres per hour. Several poles on the causeway and bridge from Shippagan to Lamèque, and also in the Pokeshaw and Anse Bleu area, were affected by the high winds.
Thursday night, crews safely restored electricity to 2500 customers from a peak of approximately 7,000. Efforts were complicated by ongoing lightning.
Replacement equipment like poles, power lines and structures were sent from Fredericton to the northern area overnight Thursday. Fifteen new poles were required. None of the infrastructure which was damaged was new since the last ice storm.
Power is restored to Lamèque & bridge is reopened to traffic. Customers remaining without power should all be restored by 3pm Saturday.
Customers are reminded to stay clear of downed lines and equipment, and to be mindful of the safety of crews that may be stopped along the roads working to restore power.