Weather cause of Monday’s power outage

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Fire crews are lowered from the roof of the RBC branch on 100 Avenue and 102 Street Monday afternoon. – Stephen Dafoe Photos

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Approximately 100 utilities customers were without power for a couple hours Monday afternoon. Heavy, wet snow in the area caused a transformer and some switches to blow, leaving businesses and residences without power.

“The cause was contamination on our lines due to the heavy, wet snow in the area, said Fortis Alberta spokesperson Jennifer MacGowan in an email interview Monday afternoon, adding contamination was due to a combination of a buildup of dirt, dust, road salts and a layer of ice, which together reduce the isolative qualities of the insulators. “As a result, the conductor (wire) and pole (wooden) act like a match and a log coming in contact with each other.” MacGowan said the blown transformer and switches was the cause of the popping sound residents would have heard.

Power was restored to affected residents and businesses around 2:30 Monday afternoon.

Situation brings fire department to RBC branch

Morinville Fire Department was called out in the wet snow Monday morning to deal with a call at the RBC branch on 100 Avenue and 102 Street.

Deputy Chief Brad Boddez said the department received a call of possible smoke at the bank, and found an odour present when crews arrived on scene. “We sent crews on the roof to take a look at the HVAC [heating, ventilation, air conditioning] unit and had crews doing a recon inside downstairs in the furnace room and electrical room,” Boddez said, adding his crew had noticed an earlier power bump when they were at the fire hall, and discovered the Town of Morinville offices and bank had experienced the same, a situation that ended with half the bank’s lights being on and half being off. “When Fortis got there they told us about the bump and that it was only running a single phase into the building, which could cause the rooftop HVAC unit to kind of back up or not run properly.”

The Deputy Chief said he was not certain just what the situation with the rooftop unit was or how it may be related to the power surge. His crews shut the unit down and RBC had an HVAC specialist come out to look at the unit Monday afternoon.

“We isolated the HVAC unity completely, shut the power off to it,” Boddez said, adding his crews left after Fortis had restored power to the bank.

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