Power restored to 120,000 customers after northern B.C. transmission failure

Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the outage, says BC Hydro

More than 120,000 customers in northern B.C. were without power Wednesday night due to a transmission circuit failure caused by a suspected lightning strike, according to BC Hydro.

The power went out at 8:54 p.m. impacting communities south, north and west of Prince George, including Mackenzie, Vanderhoof, Smithers, Fort St John, Dawson Creek, Chetwynd, Hudsons Hope, Terrace, Houston and Burns Lake.

Crews began restoration efforts right away to restore power to all customers within a few hours.

The utility said power had been restored in Prince George at about 10:30 p.m. and most customers could expect theirs back by 12:30 a.m.

Burning gas from a facility at the Husky oil refinery in Prince George momentarily made it appear as if an explosion had knocked out a 5,000-watt transmission line serving northern B.C., according to BC Hydro.

“When it went dark, there was a glow of orange just north of the river from my side,” says Dave Mosure, community relations coordinator for BC Hydro, who also lives outside of Prince George.

“It turns out it is off-gassing from the Husky refinery plant where they burn the gases, and it creates this huge an orange glow. It was significant enough because everything else was dark, that the City of Prince George had their fire department respond only to learn it’s not a fire, it’s just them burning off gas.”

While Mosure says it’s not certain exactly what the lightning hit, the strike happened somewhere between Clinton and Prince George, taking out the transmission system.

“Transmission lines are the ones that feed all the other lines and all the other substations,” Mosure says. “This was a really big line, 5,000-volt lines that comes down east from the lower mainland.”

With large transmission line failures like this, Mosure says crews can switch power lines around to reconnect service allowing crews to make repairs after.

Prince Rupert was the only city in northern B.C. served by BC Hydro’s power grid that wasn’t affected. The city had already been separated from the main grid and is being served by the Rupert Gas Plant because of maintenance work on the system between Terrace and Kitimat.

“Prince Rupert is in a bit of a unique situation where they can be ‘islanded’,” Mosure says. “If the big transmission line goes down, we can open up a switch, and there is a backup gas generation plant in the area.”

Both Fort Nelson and Atlin are isolated from BC Hydro’s main grid.

Mosure says BC Hydro would evaluate and consider new technologies that may offer better protection or mitigation against lightning strikes in the future.

– with files from Brittany Gervais and Angie Mindus


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
Jenna Cocullo 
Send Jenna email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Pacific Western Brewing planting more than 70,000 seedlings between Prince George and Quesnel

Cariboo Cares reforestation program also planted thousands of seedlings near 70 Mile House last year

Column: Do log experts take away jobs in BC?

Columnist Jim Hilton argues the local forestry industry needs better residue management strategies

Funds still available in North Cariboo through Wildfire Business Transition Program

Community Futures North Cariboo hopes local businesses will take advantage of the opportunity

Quesnel and District Community Arts Council will celebrate 45th anniversary during Culture Days

Several activities and events are planned for Sept. 27-29, including second Indigenous Artist Show

Public invited to learn more about pasture rejuvenation trials south of Quesnel

A pasture walk with B.C. Forage Council will take place Sept. 18 at Australian Ranch

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

B.C. communities urged to improve access for disabled people

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work

Most Read