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Power Problems

Updated: Jul 8

A summer-time dive into all things Hydro

Planned power outage, July 9, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

With Tuesday's scheduled power outage set to take place on the hottest week of the year so far, The Watershed takes a closer look at the Crown corporation that –mostly– keeps the lights on in the Village.

This week's outage is a planned event by BC Hydro for "routine maintenance on local equipment". Power is expected to be off for most residents of Lions Bay from 9 a.m to 4 p.m. on July 9. (To check if your household is exempt, see the July 5 Village Update HERE).

Hydro is advising customers to prepare for the outage by turning off major appliances and unplugging electronics to protect them from damage.

Residents have been informed that planned outages allow Hydro to safely maintain and improve the electric system, to help reduce the frequency of unplanned outages caused by storms and equipment failures.

Lions Bay substation is fed by a transmission line that runs from Squamish to Horseshoe Bay. Under normal conditions, the substation is typically fed from the south, with a switch to a feed from the north if the southern section of the transmission line is out of service.

A marked increase in the number of power outages experienced in Lions Bay and along the Sea to Sky corridor over the past winter season led some local residents to speculate that the increase in electric vehicle (EV) ownership and heat pump installations in the village may be to blame.

However, according to Whitney Deane, a spokesperson for BC Hydro, the majority of outages in the village over the past ten years are the result of storms or falling trees. She notes that the wiring within homes is the responsibility of the homeowner, but the connection between the home and the system falls under Hydro's purview.

"Should additional capacity be required, the customer would submit a design request to BC Hydro. We then look at our system and gauge whether the current infrastructure is sufficient, or upgrades need to be made to meet that new demand."

Deane says that Hydro's challenge when providing electricity to Lions Bay centres mostly on the transmission lines that run along the mountainside within difficult terrain and dense forest, while also being exposed to severe weather events. She adds that if both sections of the transmission line are out of service, or if the substation is out of service, the local feeder can be tied to a circuit connected to Horseshoe Bay Substation.

But she notes this change is done manually, both at the substation and in the field and involves multiple crews. It can take a few hours for crews to be dispatched, get to the site, and perform the required operational switching.

Aside from planned shut-downs like the one this week, Deane says that vegetation maintenance on private property can help reduce the number of outages.

"Property owners are responsible for trees on their property and we ask that they monitor and maintain them. We actively monitor and manage vegetation on the primary voltage lines through our vegetation management program." More information is available from BC Hydro on planting trees (for homeowners) and Hydro's system for pruning trees.

Residents who are looking for a discount or compensation for Hydro down-time are out of luck.

"When a power outage occurs, customers are not using power and therefore are not incurring charges during the outage," said Deane. "We work hard to provide you with regular and uninterrupted service but we don't guarantee a constant supply of electricity, or the maintenance of frequency or voltage."

Details of Hydro's customer service can be found HERE, and complaints can be directed HERE.

And as for Tuesday's outage, The Watershed plans to ride it out by relocating its work space to somewhere with wifi, a bit of shade and something cold to drink near at hand. Enjoy the sunshine!

(Update: As of 4:05 p.m., the BC Hydro website has cancelled the power outage set for Tuesday. As yet, no replacement time has been noted.)

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As of 3:37 p.m., July 8, this outage has been cancelled, and supposedly will be rescheduled

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