A powerful lesson
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