Reliability

Powering Our Communities. Every Day.


You count on us to power your lives and communities. Providing safe, reliable electricity every day is our commitment to you. We work across the province, from Yarmouth to Wreck Cove, and every community in between, to prevent power outages and to continue to strengthen our electrical system—for today, and for the future.

Committed to delivering reliable service



Nova Scotia’s power grid was built more than a century ago through forest, fields, and rock, and sits on the edge of the North Atlantic Ocean. It’s made up of nearly 32,000 kilometres of power lines and almost 400,000 poles. It’s a complex system that continues to be exposed to severe weather that is getting more severe with time.

Our teams work to maintain, strengthen, and continue to improve the essential service we provide Nova Scotians. We're held accountable to annual performance standards that measure how well we do to keep this service reliable.


How we're investing in our system


Through proactive plans and innovative technology, we’re always inspecting, testing and improving our infrastructure.

  • Each year, we invest in our system and spend approximately $100 million on new equipment, equipment upgrades, and tree trimming. Decisions on how we invest are guided by outage statistics and proactive equipment monitoring and data.

  • We upgrade the power grid through large scale projects identified for each region and through equipment upgrades and repairs.

  • Safety is at the heart of everything we doOur safety culture focuses on the firm belief that all incidents are preventable. All of our employees receive annual safety training and we have customized training programs for our frontline workers, leaders and contractors.

Modernizing Our Grid


We’re building a cleaner, greener energy future for our province, while providing electricity that is affordable and reliable for all Nova Scotians.

SMART METERS are the foundation for our energy future, offering customers more choice and control. Our province-wide smart meter installations will be complete in 2021. This will allow us and our customers to better understand how they are using electricity, including when they lose power. It will mean we can respond faster, and better understand which areas need more maintenance.

BATTERY STORAGE can help us bring more clean energy to the grid, and provide back-up power in the event of an outage. We’ve successfully tested battery storage through our Intelligent Feeder Project. Now, we’re working with 135 customers as part of the Smart Grid Nova Scotia pilot to understand how in-home batteries can provide value for our electrical system and for our customers.


Reliability Project Examples


Frequently Asked Questions


Doesn’t NS Power invest in maintenance?

We know outages cause real inconvenience and challenges for customers. That’s why we spend more than $100 million each year on repairs, upgrades and improvements to the electrical system across the province, including about $20 million a year on cutting back trees from power lines.

We work hard to stay ahead of problems. We have proactive plans to work on different sections of the system each year. We’re always inspecting, testing and monitoring our infrastructure.

The reality is we have a large, complex system that is exposed to all elements and there are going to be outages. 

We must always balance investment with cost to customers.

What causes power outages on a calm and sunny day?

Outages can be caused by elements out of our control - everything from motor vehicle accidents, animals or birds coming into contact with electrical equipment and construction.  

Trees damaged or weakened during bad storms don’t always fall or come down on lines until days or weeks later.

What causes most of our power outages?

Outages happen for many different reasons, but severe weather, which can cause trees to come into contact with our lines, is the main cause of power outages in Nova Scotia.

That’s why we invest about $20 million in tree trimming and maintenance every year. Our vegetation management team clears trees and branches along approximately 1,000 km of power lines annually.

Why is the power always going out every time we have wind, rain or snow storms?

Severe weather is one of the top causes of power outages in Nova Scotia. Ice build up, heavy wet snow and high winds can weaken power lines and cause branches or trees to come into contact with our equipment.

Our system is complex, and it is being exposed to more severe weather now than ever before. Our power grid was built over 100 years ago - we are working to strengthen our system to withstand the impacts of a changing climate.

We are experiencing winds at over 80 km/hour more often. There were over 150 hours in 2019 compared to just over 20 hours in 2009. It’s also not safe for our power line technicians to be up in bucket trucks when the winds are that high, which can cause delays in restoring power.

 

Why does my estimated restoration time sometimes change on the outage map?

We do our best to predict when the power will be restored during an outage, but estimated restorations times sometimes change once crews get on site and assess the damage.

Initial estimated restoration times on our outage map are based on a number of factors – weather conditions, location of the outage, suspected severity of damage, past outages in your area, and more. Once we’re able to assess the damage and identify anything else that may impact restorations (ex: unsafe situation, unplowed road), we’ll update the estimated restoration time.


How are you preventing outages caused by fallen trees and branches?

When it comes to power outages, trees are without a doubt our biggest culprit. And while they make our province a beautiful place to live, they can interfere with power lines and cause outages. It’s why we have our vegetation management team—they control tree growth near power lines through tree trimming to prevent outages year-round. Last year, we invested about $20 million in planned and requested vegetation management, trimming trees along 756 km of power lines.

Because many municipalities value having roadside trees, we work with them to balance our right-of-way maintenance with their local priorities. In certain urban areas of Halifax, for example, the municipality conducts its own tree maintenance to ensure those local priorities are met. 

Why don’t you bury the power lines? Wouldn’t this help prevent outages?

While it’s true that power outages can be less frequent with underground lines, when they do occur, they’re harder to locate and take longer to repair.

Underground lines are also much more expensive. The main reason we don’t typically bury power lines is because we’re regulated to provide the most cost-effective option for customers. Burying lines can be 10 times more expensive for customers than running lines overhead. Nova Scotia’s rocky terrain also makes it a challenge.

In cases where lines are buried, we usually work with developers or municipalities that finance the difference in cost, so customers aren’t impacted. For us to bury lines in Halifax only, for example, it would be more costly for customers throughout the province.

It’s also important to note that burying the lines could be inconvenient for residents. It would require digging up streets and sidewalks and would damage the root systems of trees.



Employee Spotlight: Adam King, Substation Supervisor


Day or night, sun or snow, our crews work hard every day to keep the power on for Nova Scotians. It takes the dedication of people like Adam—a substation supervisor in Kentville—to make it happen

 

 

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