Poor planning, not storms, caused power outages

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I live in an area where our electricity is supplied by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro (Nalcor).

After living there for 35 years, I could write a book on this power supplier, but in this letter, I will highlight a few incidents that happened lately.

Last fall, Nalcor had a planned four-hour power outage for some changes to the power system for the whole Green Bay area, but was down for seven hours.

Shortly after that, Newfoundland was hit with a snowstorm, and many areas were affected, including Green Bay South.

In the same storm, Badger lost its power and was on the news for several days, but its supplier, Newfoundland Power, brought in a generator.

Green Bay South, with a bigger population, lost its power with not a peep.

The problem, we were told, was caused at the South Brook area. What got me upset was not that we lost our power, but the way Nalcor handled it.

We have two transmission lines running from South Brook to Triton.

The second was put down there when the fish plant was built.

A few houses in Triton never lost their power because they were on the fish plant line.

All Nalcor had to do was transfer the power from one transmission line, which runs side-by-side to the other, and we would not have had a loss of power for several days.

On Jan. 3, I went to Placentia to spend some time with a friend.

On Jan. 4 at 9 a.m., the power went out and did not come back until Sunday at

12:30 p.m., at the time that the premier, Kathy Dunderdale, and the president of Nalcor, Ed Martin, were having a press conference explaining the problems or excuses why we had a provincewide blackout.

First was the cold weather, the coldest we have seen for many years (Ed Martin).

I agree, but the weather we saw in the blackout is the type of weather that we can expect to see every year in January, February and March.

Second was that Nalcor had two generating stations down for maintenance (very poor timing).

Third, Holyrood was only operating at one-third capacity. Why?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

The premier’s reason was the aging infrastructure, Holyrood being 40 years old. I would advise the premier to take a tour of the powerhouse in Deer Lake — approximately 90 years old and operated by the private sector that has to make a profit, and their maintenance would be done in a time when the demand was low.

Just goes to show that the private sector is much more efficient than Crown corporations that do not have to make a profit, but depend on the taxpayers to keep them going.

It is not my policy to kick someone when they are down, but Nalcor is a Crown corporation whose mandate is to make sure that the citizens of the province have the basic needs of light and heat, especially when it’s cold, and have enough power to run our industries.

This power outage was not caused by bad weather patterns, but by a lack of generation and very poor planning by Nalcor.

It’s ridiculous we have to close down all the schools on the island because we do not have the capacity to heat them, in what I would refer to as normal NL weather. (Another Newfie joke.)

I want to point out this power outage was not caused in any way by Newfoundland Power or by stormy weather, but was caused by Nalcor — they were the ones who dropped the ball, and this government run by Kathy Dunderdale put legislation in place that will not allow any other company, including Newfoundland Power and Fortis, to supply any more power to the citizens of this province.

We are forced to purchase from Nalcor regardless of the cost.

This blackout proved one thing: that instead of Nalcor spending money to keep their generators in top working order, they were diverting all the money to a project 1,300 kilometres away in Labrador in an effort to get it beyond the point of no return before the next election.

It is a project that the majority of our citizens are convinced we don’t need, and a project that our children and grandchildren will be paying dearly for the rest of their lives.


(Retired) Capt. Wilfred Bartlett writes from Green Bay South. His email address

is wilfbartlett@hotmail.com.



Organizations: Newfoundland Power

Geographic location: Green Bay South, Labrador, South Brook Holyrood Placentia Deer Lake

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