PUB issues power warning

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Utilities regulator takes action after seeing numbers in Hydro reports

Power users connected to the island of Newfoundland’s main power grid are being asked to conserve energy by both Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Newfoundland Power.

Telegram file photo

The flow of information today has been different than the day rolling blackouts started on the island in early January. This time around, the first statements on a potential problem reached Newfoundland Power through the Public Utilities Board (PUB), instead of through Hydro.

“Newfoundland Power received communication from the Public Utilities Board (PUB), and I believe it was late morning,” said Karen McCarthy, manager of communications with Newfoundland Power, in an interview shortly after 3 p.m.

She said she would have to check emails to confirm the exact time the news reached Newfoundland Power.

The PUB has been monitoring the status of the island power system on a daily basis since launching an investigation into rolling blackouts and unplanned outages in January.

McCarthy pointed to the PUB’s monitoring when asked why Newfoundland Power was first notified by the regulator.

“Possibly because Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has been providing daily updates, I think you can see them on the PUB’s website, on the status of generation availability and so forth on the system. So I would assume that’s why and we received a call from the PUB to make us aware,” she said.

“They would have made us aware that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro was anticipating perhaps as much as only a five per cent differential on the system tomorrow, a five per cent margin as we call it, of availability on the system that is that small it’s prudent for both utilities then to work with customers, whether they be residential or business and look to conserve.”

Prior to now, those notifications have gone directly from Hydro to Newfoundland Power.

“It’s definitely a change for the Public Utilities Board to have been in touch with us today to make us aware, yes,” McCarthy said, when asked about the flow of information.

That said, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro staff have been in direct contact with Newfoundland Power since about the current state of the system and the two utilities planned for the issuance of press releases, for public notification, this afternoon.

Those notices are asking for energy conservation wherever possible over the next three days as the so-called island interconnected system — the island’s main power grid — faces tight supply with expected high power demand.

Organizations: Newfoundland Power, Public Utilities Board, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro

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Recent comments

  • Maggy Carter
    March 04, 2014 - 01:53

    Is there a problem between NALCOR and Fortis? Would not surprise. At the outset of the PUB hearings, Newfoundland Power took exception to NALCOR's attempt to limit the scope of the PUB inquiry. Newfoundland Power might also be smarting from the side-swiping it took from Dunderdale and NALCOR when she announced the provincial inquiry would include a review of Newfoundland Power. It implied that Newfoundland Power was partly responsible for the blackouts and collapse of the system. The PUB was also thrown into the wringer - a not so subtle suggestion that it too might be to blame for NALCOR's failures. Anything, it seems, to deflect attention away from government and NALCOR as the real culprits. Anyone following this slow-motion train wreck would understand that it was government that stifled any chance the PUB might have had to properly review the Muskrat project. They would also understand that, as a distributor of power not a producer (except for some 10%), Newfoundland Power bore no responsibility for Dunderdale's non-crisis crisis. Was that discomfort I saw on Earl Ludlow's face (Newfoundland Power's top guy) as he stood alongside Dunderdale and Martin? Almost like he was being made to answer for a mess that he had no hand in making. For better or worse, Muskrat is a go. Only time will tell. What is obvious however when looking at the economics of the project is that its only chance of success depends on the benchmark price of oil going north of $150 per barrel and staying there for decades to come. For that to happen unfortunately there would need to be a long string of some very nasty things happening in the world. Do we really want to be cheering for more meltdowns like the present one in eastern Europe as our best bet to stave off a Muskrat triggered economic disaster at home?

    • Winston Adams
      March 04, 2014 - 07:48

      Maggie, Nfld Power and Nfld Hydro share the same Conservation and efficiency plan, that does little. Other progressive utilities do 10 times more than here. This matters a lot, given our winter heating loads. Review their plan from their rate application last year and had no intention to have a more robust plan. Failure to to so makes us vunerable , and needing more expensive generation assets to meet these peak demands that last only 8 or 10 days a year. Poor planning, and a big expense for the customerin higher power bills for more generation and transmission assets than otherwise needed. And Nfld Power has the public face, being the distributor and the one sending the power bills. They are indeed part of the problem. MHI said they were not engaging in best practises as to end use analysis, meaning they have little idea how well their forecasts for efficiency and conservation is. There is no verification . Say a cfc bulb saves 75 percent when in reality it saves z.ero in winter time from the interactive effect ( less heat from the bulb so more heat needed from the heater). This applies to refrigerators as well. But they don't tell anyone this, to keep selling more energy, for more revenue. The customer be dammed.

  • Just Sayin
    March 03, 2014 - 18:55

    When one examines the power companies formal Conservation Plan, perhaps the worst in North America, and doing little to help the homeowner to serve energy, one might ask why should the homeowner help the power company as a result of their incompetence. A year ago they said they were doing plenty in thier Conservation Plan. Read the transcripts from their last request for rate increases. But because this request comes from the PUB, I'll lower my thermostat.

  • Robert
    March 03, 2014 - 15:09

    I can not conserve anymore,I will not turn down my electric heat to conserve, it is - 10 windchill -18. How about you send an email to big companies and million dollar homes to conserve.