West Kelowna power outage shows need for second transmission line says mayor

Outage left an estimated 22,000 homes from Summerland to West Kelowna in the dark for nine hours Wednesday night.

West Kelowna’s mayor says Wednesday’s massive power outage, which left an estimated 22,000 households in West Kelowna, Peachland and parts of Summerland in the dark for nine hours, points to the need for a second B.C. Hyrdo electricity transmission line into the area.

Doug Findlater, said the issue of a second line has been something successive West Kelowna council’s have been pressing since incorporattion seven years ago.

The last major outage that affected as many households was an even larger one in 2007. Like the one Wednesday night, it resulted from a problem with just one pole on the line a great distance from the Westside.

On Wednesday, a fire on a Hydro transmission pole in a remote, mountainous area east of Merritt resulted in the outage, which lasted from 6:30 p.m. Wednesday evening to 3:30 a.m. Thursday morning.

Crew has to find the problem in the dark, fix it and them restring power lines in challenging conditions, said B.C. Hydro. That is what lead to the lengthy outage.

With power out across the district, many businesses were forced to close early, traffic signals and street lights were out and thousands of people directly affected.

Findlater said B.C. Hydro currently has a business case for a second transmission line in its possession and has told West Kelowna it will study it and appear before council to discuss its findings before the end of November.

The mayor said threat of more serious problems in the event of a lengthy outage is very real here and he pointed to the number of care facilities for seniors in the community as an example, saying they were particularly vulnerable.

“If you were to get a prolonged outage, basically it could shut down your community,” he said.

As many as 70,000 people between Summerland and the William Bennet Bridge over Okanagan Lake could be affected if the line went down, he added.

Currently there are three options for a second transmission line to the Westside — twinning the existing line from Merritt, running a line from Vernon to the north or tapping into the FortisBC line that serves Kelowna on the east side of Okanagan Lake via an underwater line.

All three have pros and cons. In the Wednesday night’s case, a twinned Merritt to West Kelowna line would have helped but it would be just as susceptible to wildfire as the existing single line is. During the recent Smith Creek fire, flames came dangerously close to the existing line but it was not damaged, said the mayor.

A line from the Vernon could cost as much as $100 million when construction and land acquisition is taken into account and a submarine line from Kelowna would likely include a “standby” charge from Fortis to B.C. Hydro that Hydro is not likely willing to pay, said Findlater.

But he added despite the potential problems getting a second line built, he feels the district is much farther ahead on the issue now than it has been in the past.

“It definately won’t happen next week but within the next five years? I’m hopeful,” said Findlater.

According to the mayor, the issue has been raised with Premier Christy Clark, the MLA for the area, and she is supportive of a second transmission line and the deputy energy minister has also helped move the issue along.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Robot caretakers could be in your future

Interior Health CEO says AI will revolutionalize medical care

Kelowna walk sheds light on blood cancer darkness

The Light The Night Walk takes Saturday, April 21, from Waterfront Park

Driving Change: A Kelowna man’s charitable trip across Canada

A Kelowna man, his bus, and his mission for positive change across our country

Kelowna examines options to connect Rutland with rail trail

Public feedback on the four options is available online until May 6

Wanted man nabbed after flipping car in Kelowna

A wanted man is now facing charges

Kelowna properties flooded along Heimlich Road

Flooding started on Spiers Road Tuesday and continued into properties, said an area resident

More snow on B.C. highways this weekend

Forecast says … winter is taking its time.

Locals play their part in Cirque’s Crystal in Penticton

It’s no easy task when it comes to unloading 17 semis full of equipment

Countdown is on to the 2018 B.C. Summer Games

Cowichan Valley hosts on July 19-22

Case of teacher secretly filming teens reaches top court

Acquittal of teacher, Ryan Jarvis, who secretly videoed teens ‘dangerous,’ top court told

The “industry will collapse” : South Okanagan winery reacts to ruling

Okanagan Falls winery concerned for the future of the industry after Supreme Court ruling

Why a 14-year-old will lead the charge at annual marijuana protest on the Hill

Marijuana enthusiasts have long been circling April 20 on their calendars as annual day of cannabis

B.C. communities await marine spill compensation years after incidents

The government maintains a Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund to compensate Canadians

RCMP say too early to know what happened in Broncos crash

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said collission very complex

Most Read