Bay de Verde Mayor calls for an­swers af­ter prov­ince-wide power out­age

The Compass - - NEWS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

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.

Com­pass file photo

Ger­ard Mur­phy is the mayor of Bay de Verde.

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