Bay de Verde Mayor calls for answers after province-wide power outage
Town of Bay de Verde Mayor Gerard Murphy said that people deserve answers after a power outage that affected much of the province during the weekend of Jan. 4.
“Officials at the level of Nalcor and ministers who have areas of responsibility here … I believe the public has a lot of questions regarding this occurrence,” he said. “We all realize that things happen, and the like, however on the scale that this happened there certainly needs to be some thorough followup and some answers provided to serious questions that are out there.”
A few days after Murphy issued the call for answers, Premier Kathy Dunderdale announced there would, in fact, be an independent review of the power system.
“People are wondering what the heck is going on,” Dunderdale stated on Jan. 9.
Residents of Bay de Verde, like others in the Trinity-Conception-Placentia region, were affected by an unplanned outage that started shortly after 9 a.m. on Jan. 4, following a massive winter storm.
It was discovered a transformer fire at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s Sunnyside terminal station was at the heart of the outage, leaving some 190,000 Newfoundland Power customers in the dark. By the afternoon, that number had dropped to 125,000 with the majority affected being on the Avalon, Bonavista and Burin peninsulas. The
“I really don’t think the agencies responsible, namely Newfoundland Hydro through Nalcor, really had their act together.”
— Gerard Murphy
number jumped to approximately 140,000 by the evening.
Crews worked feverishly to restore power to all customers, and the uncertainty over the supply of power caused a delay in the reopening of schools.
The situation was compounded on Sunday ( Jan. 5) evening when some 90,000 customers were again plunged into darkness after complications at the Holyrood generating plant.
“I really don’t think the agencies responsible, namely Newfoundland Hydro through Nalcor, really had their act together,” said Murphy. “I feel that under the worst circumstances, they could have probably anticipated something like this happening.”
Like many, the mayor said the main issue over the weekend was not the storm; it was the loss of power.
“I’ve seen worse storms,” said Murphy. “We have a full winter ahead of us, and my concern now as the mayor for the Town of Bay de Verde is that with any impending storm now, we are vulnerable to a loss of power.”
He said this is because the grid is unable to supply the amount of power that is required for the province.
Murphy can only speculate as to why the grid would not be suitable for supplying the necessary power.
“Is it a lack of appropriate and planned maintenance or is it a lack of a general investment in the existing grid system?” he said. “Anything that can be done, should be done.”
Murphy believes the situation will not be getting better as the winter progresses.
“Obviously, we’re not out of the woods yet, it could be worse,” he said.
Gerard Murphy is the mayor of Bay de Verde.