Outage Centre

WE TAKE A "SAFETY FIRST" APPROACH TO RESTORATION


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A common question following a large storm event is about our restoration priorities. We restore power in a specific order starting with any emergency safety concerns. Then we restore power to the substations and main power lines that bring electricity from power plants to our towns and cities. After that, we focus on critical services identified by the Emergency Management Office such as hospitals, police, fire, water and communications. Next, we repair power lines that will restore power to the greatest number of customers in the least amount of time, including high density buildings or neighbourhoods. Once these repairs are made, crews restore power to smaller groups of customers and individuals.

Learn more about the restoration process

COMMON CAUSES OF POWER OUTAGES


The most common cause of power outages in Nova Scotia is trees interfering with power lines, usually during high wind conditions.

Many outages are caused by weather events, and the biggest cause is trees and branches contacting power lines, usually from strong winds. Outages can also be caused by lightning strikes, heavy snow or ice buildup on lines and equipment, high winds, hurricanes or other extreme weather conditions.
Outages can also be caused by motor vehicle accidents impacting poles or equipment, equipment failure, construction activity, and trees or animals contacting power lines and equipment. We do our best to protect wildlife around our equipment - read about our Osprey Relocation Program.
Salt contamination is a common issue with coastal utilities, and even some inland areas that use road salt. Salt water is a great conductor of electricity that can cause electrical shorting on parts of our system designed to protect it, such as insulators. Wind blows salt onto equipment over a period of hours or days, and when the temperature rises, the moisture in the air causes arcing which leads to outages. When it rains, the salt usually washes away and resolves the issue, but continued moisture in windy conditions can also blow more salt on the equipment causing the issue to reoccur.
To help prevent unplanned outages, we sometimes need to disconnect power to certain areas temporarily while our crews safely perform maintenance or make upgrades to equipment. While the safety of our customers and employees is our first priority, we make every effort to ensure planned outages are as short as possible and take place at times of least inconvenience to customers. In situations like these, we’ll call affected customers beforehand to let them know the expected duration of the outage. You can update your account information online to make sure we have the correct contact information.

Understanding Restoration Times


An estimated restoration time or ‘ETR’ is our best estimate of when your power will be restored. As soon as we know about your outage, we assign an ETR based on a number of factors – weather conditions, location of 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 ETR.

COMMON OCCURENCES

Sometimes we’re able to temporarily restore power to an area by re-routing it through different power lines while we fix the initial problem. Once that work is done, we may need to disconnect power again for a short time to make a permanent fix.

You may see crews driving by your property or in and out of your neighborhood without restoring power - that’s not unusual. Crews may be searching for the cause of the outage or need to work at a nearby location before power can be restored to you and your neighbours.

Your power is out, but your neighbours are still on? There are a few reasons this could happen, one being that you are served by a different distribution circuit than the rest of your street, or it’s an issue with your own property. It could be fuses or circuit breakers switching off, or damage to the lines or equipment serving your home. We own the electrical meter and the service wire that connects your home to the power lines on your street. The meter mast and meter base belong to you. If damaged, you must have them repaired by a certified electrician before we can reconnect power.

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WHERE CAN I FIND MY ETR?

Customers can get the latest updates on estimated restoration times on our outage map at outagemap.nspower.ca, through our online outage reporting tool or by calling 1-877-428-6004.

Storm Safety and Preparedness


Preparedness is key

We encourage all customers to be prepared year-round, especially when bad weather is on the way in case of power outages. We recommend having batteries for flashlights (candles are not recommended), charging your devices, and gathering any other supplies that will help you keep comfortable while we work safely and quickly to restore your power. Ensure generators are properly installed (never install a generator indoors) by a professional for your safety. To avoid possible damage in the event of an electrical surge, turn off and unplug electrical equipment such as televisions.

Stay clear from hazardous situations

Being prepared can help you stay calm, but damages incurred during a storm can create unsafe conditions. Please consider all wires live, stay clear and report it to us. In the case of a flood, do not attempt to access your electrical panel if there is water in the immediate area. If you are using a generator, never operate it inside and always ensure you are following the operating procedures to stay safe.

Assess your property & replenish supplies

Storms can cause electrical damage to individual properties that require a certified electrician to repair before we can safely restore the power to your home or business. If your meter mast is damaged, you will need to get an electrical contractor to make repairs before we can restore power. If you don’t know of an electrician in your area, give us a call and we’ll help contact one for you. You can also find a list of electricians at the link below who are ready to help. Ensure you refill your supplies to be ready the next time a storm hits.
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FIND OUT MORE

OUR CRITICAL CUSTOMER COMMUNICATION PROGRAM


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Our Critical Customer Communication Program is designed for customers whose health is directly dependent on electricity, such as those requiring oxygen machine or dialysis.

THROUGH THIS PROGRAM, WE PROVIDE:

  • Advanced notice of planned power outages
  • Contact during unplanned power outages expected to last longer than four hours and information on the causes and expected time power will be restored.
  • Updates if the restoration time changes during repairs
Sign up today

It's easy to sign up:

All you need is a letter from your doctor or registered medical service provider describing the type of home/critical care you currently receive that is dependent on electricity.

Mail or fax your letter to us:

Nova Scotia Power
P.O. Box 910, Halifax, NS, B3J 2W5
Attention: Critical Customer Communication Program

Toll Free Fax 1-888-428-6108  
Attention: Critical Customer Communication Program

Stay prepared

To be prepared for power outages you can:

  • Contact your health care or medical service provider for advice on handling power outages
  • Plan other living arrangements you may require during an outage, or make arrangements for an alternative power supply
  • Plan for alternate or additional oxygen supplies and other medical equipment as necessary
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HELP US KEEP YOUR INFORMATION UP TO DATE

If information such as your phone number, service address or medical circumstance has changed, please contact us at 1-800-428-6230 or update your account information online

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


How do you choose who gets power back first?

Once the storm has passed, we restore power in a specific order starting with any emergency safety concerns. Then we restore power to the substations and main power lines that bring electricity from power plants to our towns and cities.

After that, we focus on critical services identified by the provincial Emergency Management Office (EMO), like hospitals, police, fire, water and communications. Next, we repair power lines that will restore power to the greatest number of customers in the least amount of time. For example: high density buildings or neighbourhoods. Once these repairs are made, crews restore power to smaller groups of customers and individuals.

How do you come up with an estimated time of restoration?

The initial estimate is based on weather conditions, road and travel conditions, location of the outage and previous storm and outage historical information. As we assess damage, estimated restoration times will sometimes change based on the severity of the damage.

Why is my estimated restoration time so long when there is no damage on my street?

Damage does not have to be on your street to cause a power outage.  Your power originates at a substation and, depending on where you live, that substation can be kilometers away.

If damage occurs anywhere between the substation and your residence, it can cause an outage.

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.


Why is the start time on the outage map incorrect?

We do our best to ensure the outage map is as accurate as possible, but a few things could impact the start time listed for your outage. It could be caused by a “nested outage”.

This means that your neighbourhood might be experiencing one outage, but the outage your home is experiencing is caused by a more localized issue—like a blown fuse or a tree hanging on your home’s direct power line.

I saw crews in the area, but my power isn’t back. Why?

Sometimes damage assessors will be in the area to assess damage before our Powerline Technicians arrive to connect. It could also be that the cause of the outage is located some distance away, or it could be a damage assessor going through to assess damage in your area.

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.

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