Utilities want attention paid to power line contacts

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Newfoundland Power, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro join forces on safety issue

Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro continue to ask individuals and contractors to stay away from power lines.

John Curran (left), director of safety with Newfoundland Power, and Darren Moore,general manager of transmission and rural operations with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, are shown on Lady Smith Drive in the Kenmount Terrace housing development on Friday afternoon.

The two utilities teamed up Friday to deliver a warning about unexpected and dangerous contacts happening with underground and overhead powerlines.

In 2012, the utilities collectively recorded 136 power line contacts. So far in 2013, there have been 64 line contacts.

“The big concern we’re having now is we’ve been spreading this message through media, through advertising, on social media, any way we can get the message out. We’ve had meetings with contractors, brought them into our offices and explained the dangers and still, for all, to date this year we’ve had 64 contacts with power lines,” said Darren Moore, general manager for transmission and rural operations at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

“And our fear now is that the message is not being effective. The fall is a very busy construction season and we just want to get out there and reinforce that message,” he said.

“We’re worried that if this trend doesn’t stop, someone’s going to lose their life because of this hazard.”

Power line contacts are recorded by the Public Utilities Board and are reported to Occupational Health and Safety. The Service NL department is left to determine if there will be any follow up from a regulatory perspective, including charges.

“It’s in the provincial Occupational Health and Safety regulations that anybody who operates a piece of equipment that can contact a power line must have finished a power line hazards course,” said John Curran, director of safety with Newfoundland Power.

“You have to maintain 5.5 metres from a power line. If you want to go closer, you have to get a permit from the utilities,” he said.

“We want to make sure people know that it’s regulated, it’s very important and those kinds of things can save a life.”    

Curran said there are likely several reasons why so many power line contacts are happening, but believes increased construction is playing a role.

Of the power line contacts this year, the majority have involved construction equipment including excavators, dump trucks, boom trucks, cranes, tractors and trailers.

However, according to both utilities, the power line contacts have also come as individuals cut wood or complete projects around their own property, like trimming and cutting trees.


Organizations: Newfoundland Power, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Public Utilities Board Service NL department

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Recent comments

  • Jim hawco
    September 23, 2013 - 23:02

    Home owners in areas where trees are grown into contact with primary power lines are forced to wait for utility companies to remove this dangerous situation . Living in St. John's I called NL&P in July to get a crew out to remove tree limbs that are into primary power lines .we are now into late Sept and they still have me on their wait list . Lets hope our storm season doesn't take them down for them. I can see where frustrated hOmeowners try to do it themselves . Thanks

  • Frustrated citizen who wants to comply, but company won't let me
    September 21, 2013 - 08:13

    We have been trying for almost two months to get Bell to come trim dead tree branches that are resting so heavily on our phone lines that the lines are bent down almost a foot. One wind storm and those branches will knock out the phone lines. We had two appointments with Bell, but no one showed up and Bell did not call to cancel. (We live in an attached townhouse and need to be home to let Bell access the backyard through the house). I have unnecessarily missed two days of work thanks to Bell's no shows. I also have a very high cell phone bill due to countless hours on the phone with them (ironically my mobile phone contract is with Bell, yet it costs me money/minutes to call them about my home phone lines). They are a phone company and they didn't even have the courtesy to call and tell us the technicians weren't coming for the scheduled appointments. Two months later and we are still waiting for the promised call back to schedule a third appointment (I called Bell AGAIN, but was told I have to wait for them to call me).