Update: Peachland scheduled for another blackout

Peachland's latest blackout has raised the ire of its mayor, who's calling for BC Hydro to get its act together.

BC Hydro announced mid afternoon Thursday there would be a scheduled outage on Friday to make a permanent fix to the problems that knocked out power earlier in the week.

Their release goes as follows: “Please be advised that BC Hydro must make emergency repairs which includes the replacement of a pole and associated equipment in Peachland tomorrow, Friday November 28. To ensure public and crew safety the work cannot be done with the lines energized.

Therefore a power outage is required to all of Peachland and BC Hydro customers south of Peachland from 10am Friday November 28th until 6pm Friday November 28th. This is a total of 3,925 BC Hydro customers.

We regret the inconvenience this will cause however this planned work is critical to avoid an unplanned failure of the equipment which would result in a much longer outage and at a random time.

As background when crews restored power after the lengthy outage on Wednesday they recognized the damage required major and very lengthy work, so they made temporary repairs in order to get customers on as quickly as possible. The work being done Friday will be the permanent repairs.

We very much appreciate your understanding and assure you the work will be done as quickly as we can safely do so.”

Please Note: The District of Peachland Offices located on 3rd St. will be closed during the power outage, but the Peachland Community Center located on 6th St. will remain open during the day. If you need a place to warm up please stop on by.

 

1 p.m. Thursday

Peachland’s latest blackout has raised the ire of its mayor, who’s calling for BC Hydro to get its act together.

“I think it’s completely unacceptable—one snowstorm and the town is without power for 24 hours?” Peachland mayor Keith Fielding said, the day after heavy snowfall wiped out power across the Okanagan, with his town being hardest hit.

“People are at risk. We have a lot of vulnerable seniors who have no heat, no power, no telephone and internet access. This is the kind of service you get in a third world country.”

Power also wiped out every business in the small town, with the exception of the drug store that has a back up generator. Fielding suspects there will be a cost association with the power loss, as grocery stores and restaurants had no way to keep their food frozen.

Peachland’s blackout started at 8 p.m. Tuesday night as snow fell. It came back on for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, but by the time most awake on Wednesday it was lights out, yet again.

OriginallyBC Hydro representative Dag Sharman said it would be fixed before night fell, but lights didn’t actually come on for the 2,500 affected homes until sometime between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Sharman, said Hydro was dealing with over 50 outages and the trouble was chalked up to heavy, wet snow falling onto trees that have yet to lose their leaves.

“That means snow accumulates and in some cases branches and /or trees come down or it damages our equipment,” he said.

“The restoration process is difficult… We have all available crews on—there are even managers out on the field and contractors.”

The effort may have been significant, but it wasn’t enough, said Fielding.

“I think that it’s time BC Hydro re-arranges its capital projects and get on with fixing this,” he said. “The reality is that people were in blackout conditions for nearly 24 hours.”

And there have been other lengthy blackouts in recent months. A summer fire in the Smith Creek area put the town’s power supply at risk at that time. Then in October, there was a fault in the line at the Merritt end, and West Kelowna and chunks of Peachland were in the dark for hours on end. Had the fire gone any closer, BC Hydro estimated the town would have been in the dark ages for three days.

One idea Peachland council has recently thrown their support behind to get rid of the ongoing power problem is creating a second line to the Westbank substation. West Kelowna mayor Doug Findlater raised the issue with the crown corporation earlier in the year, and its being reviewed.

That said, Peachland wouldn’t have been saved by this most recent power outage with that line.

“This power outage was due to the local network being compromised,” said Fielding. “I know  a new transformer was installed, it lasted short while and it went again. I don’t want to underestimate BC Hydro’s efforts, but the system itself needs to be properly analyzed and fixed.”

It’s a call to action many were voicing in points across the Central Okanagan, Tuesday, as power was spotty from Peachland to Lake Country.

A representative for Fortis BC, which covers the Kelowna area, said their crews were running off their feet to try and turn the lights on.

“(The snow) was wet, heavy and widespread,” said Neal Pobran, media relations for Fortis.

Around 2,000 residents of Big White and Joe Rich were electricity free for much of Wednesday morning, but they saw their power go back sometime in the afternoon. Crews just had to to remove a tree from a line.

There was also an outage in Glenmore, running from Valley Road to Dilworth.

In Lake Country, 1,600 residents were affected by the outage, but by the next morning the number had dwindled to five.

Looking toward next week, there should be no cause for concern about power lines, although they’ll be needed.

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for the Central Okanagan

A cold snap is anticipated to roll in Friday, and it Thursday and Friday.

Environment Canada reports that cold Arctic air will push southward throughout Thursday across the Central Interior.

Gusty winds and plummeting temperatures will accompany the Arctic air. Areas where temperatures remain below freezing will experience reduced visibilities in blowing snow.

The below seasonal temperatures are expected into next week.

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