Everyone connected by Saturday – crews arrive from Maine to help

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier jriley@digbycourier.ca
Published on July 10, 2014

Nova Scotia Power’s Director of Field Operations says they should have everyone hooked up by Saturday.

Frank Woodworth, speaking to the Digby Courier by phone on Thursday July 10, said crews in the eastern area of Nova Scotia had things back to normal; in the central area they were just mopping up the last few areas today and the power utility was concentrating efforts in the western end of Nova Scotia.

“The largest remaining outages we should have repaired by the end of the day tomorrow (Friday) and the last of the small isolated areas by early Saturday,” he said.

As of this afternoon, Nova Scotia Power still had approximately 3900 customers without power, with the great majority in the western part of the province.

Of the 187 crews (typically two linesmen per crew) at work province-wide, over 160 of them are in the western end of the province, from Avonport and Chester down to Yarmouth.

Those crews were joined today by 20 men from Emera Maine who brought nine trucks over on the 3 p.m. ferry into Digby.

Those linesmen had been working on outages in Maine since Saturday morning as well.

Woodworth says the Maine crews will probably be able to return home Saturday afternoon.

“If we run into some unforeseen setback, then they will stay until everyone is connected,” said Woodworth.

Woodworth says they have been using local meter readers as guides and general helpers for crews from away.

“They know the lay of the land, they can get material for them, they deliver lunches so the guys don’t have to leave the site, that kind of general assistance,” he said.

Woodworth says the damage from Arthur was unprecedented.

“The worst was absolutely in the west,” he said. “I grew up in the Valley and I have 25 years experience with the company and I’ve never seen anything like it.

“Talking to the guys throughout this, and we have guys here from all over the province, they have never seen anything like it anywhere in Nova Scotia. It’s just kilometre after kilometre of transmission lines knocked down, trees everywhere.

“We’re still clearing roads with help from DoT,” he said.

The blocked roads not only kept out the repair crews but the assessment crews had trouble getting to many areas as well.

Woodworth says Nova Scotia Power will be reviewing the strategy they use to estimate timelines when power needs to be restored.

“That system has worked very well for us in the past, in many winter storms, but we recognize there is room for improvement and we will be doing a full forensic.

“After Juan we learned from our response and there’s an opportunity to learn from this as well,” he said.

Woodworth says Nova Scotia has not cut back at all on their preventative pruning.

“We trim our right-of-ways aggressively. We have a very robust tree management system and continue to invest consistent amounts in our vegetation management,” he said. “It not significantly changed at all in the last ten years or so; if anything we’ve invested more. It’s big huge huge expense.”

Woodworth said he knows it has been easy for those affected by Arthur and the power outages.

“Obviously it has been a very difficult time for our customers,” he said. “We are 100 per cent committed to restoring all f our customers and we greatly regret the situation.”