October 25, 2018

Committed to connect customers to reliable power, every day

As the temperatures drop and the first few snowflakes have fallen, we are preparing for winter storm season in Nova Scotia.

During a storm, it’s easy to spot our employees working hard across the province to assess equipment damage, trim trees, and undertake repairs to safely restore power to customers.

The 2017 Christmas Day/Boxing Day storm saw hundreds of our employees cancelling turkey dinners and instead strapping on safety gear to respond to thousands of outages across the province. We repaired extensive damage caused by hurricane force wind gusting upwards of 120 km/h that ripped trees from their roots, and took down multiple spans of utility poles and powerlines.

Less than a week later we faced another, bigger storm called a ‘Bomb Cyclone’ with sustained winds upwards of 140 km/h. We initiated the largest pre-mobilization of resources for a storm event in our Company’s history - 1000 people in total including powerline technicians, foresters, customer care agents and damage assessors, responded to this massive storm event.

You might be surprised to know that we have well over 1,000 people working every day across the province to operate our plants, maintain our equipment and reduce the risk of outages. We do this because we care deeply about providing a reliable service for our customers.

Adam King and his team are specifically responsible for maintenance of substation equipment located across the province, which forms the backbone of the electrical system.

 “We perform regular inspections and testing to ensure that the power grid is healthy and can provide a reliable service to our customers,” said King. “When we identify a potential problem through preventative maintenance before it can cause an outage, we’re really proud because outages on this type of transmission equipment could affect 2,000 to 20,000 customers depending on the issue. Those are really good days.”

Over $80 million is invested each year in strategic equipment maintenance and replacement, and system technology upgrades to reduce the risk of unplanned outages.

In addition to preventative equipment maintenance, there is also a year-round focus and investment in reducing the risk of tree contacts with power lines, in the amount of $20 million. Tree contacts are the number one cause of outages during storms particularly with high winds and heavy wet snow. We maintain over 27,000 kilometres of roadside distribution lines and another 5,300 kilometres of very high voltage transmission circuits. Aerial and foot patrols allow planners to identify areas where trees are likely to come into contact with our power lines so that tree trimming and cutting can prevent outages.

“We’re always mindful of balancing the provision of reliable service through the most cost effective and environmentally sensitive way possible,” said Trevor Beaton, Manager of T&D Shared Services. “In some cases tree cutting or trimming is unwanted by the property owner. We do our best to address areas of the highest safety and reliability risk, recognizing that trees are an important part of our ecosystem and the province’s picturesque landscape.”

Property owners can also help support system reliability by cutting and trimming trees on their own property that are at risk of touching power lines. Find out how to obtain safe clearance to do this work and a list of certified tree trimmers in your community at nspower.ca/treetrimming.