A pow­er­ful les­son

The Compass - - OPINION -

The re­cent wide­spread power black­out in this prov­ince, com­ing in the midst of ex­treme win­ter con­di­tions, gen­er­ated enough de­bate and blus­ter last week to power a small city.

What is nor­mally a slow news cy­cle in the days fol­low­ing the Christ­mas break mush­roomed into a ful­lon blitz as me­dia out­lets and so­cial me­dia sites fol­lowed ev­ery twist and turn as cit­i­zens scram­bled for com­fort and safety, and an­swers.

In short, con­fi­dence in the power grid was shaken, and cit­i­zens had ev­ery right to worry about its re­li­a­bil­ity.

Amid the chaos, Pre­mier Kathy Dun­derdale — wrongly — re­fused to de­scribe the sit­u­a­tion as a cri­sis, fur­ther erod­ing her al­ready plum­met­ing cred­i­bil­ity in the eyes of the elec­torate.

Thank­fully, the quest for an­swers fi­nally be­gan to get some trac­tion later in the week af­ter the pre­mier an­nounced an in­de­pen­dent re­view of the prov­ince’s power grid. The Pub­lic Util­i­ties Board later an­nounced it, too, will hold an in­quiry, in­clud­ing pub­lic hear­ings, into re­cent power sup­ply is­sues, and NAL­COR, the Crown cor­po­ra­tion that over­seas New­found­land Hy­dro, will also con­duct an in­ter­nal re­view.

It’s re­as­sur­ing to know that such close scru­tiny of the sys­tem will be car­ried out. It’s needed in or­der to re­store pub­lic con­fi­dence.

In the in­terim, res­i­dents are con­tin­u­ally be­ing re­minded that power con­ser­va­tion is im­por­tant, es­pe­cially when the mer­cury dips be­low freez­ing and fur­naces and other power-hun­gry de­vices rum­ble to life.

It’s a mes­sage we should all take to heart, and based on what we saw last week, when many busi­nesses and pub­lic en­ti­ties set a fine ex­am­ple by re­duc­ing en­ergy us­age, there are many ex­am­ples we can fol­low.

And de­spite re­peated as­sur­ances last week that the worst is over, it’s also fit­ting that we con­tinue to pre­pare for fur­ther out­ages. The fact that re­tail­ers of items such as por­ta­ble power gen­er­a­tors were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a very high de­mand for th­ese prod­ucts in places such as Car­bon­ear last week is a sign that many are heed­ing the warn­ings.

Let’s hope that re­cent events are not a har­bin­ger of things to come as we move into this new year.

— Terry Roberts

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