'We must do better,' says head of power corp after weekend outages in Yellowknife area

A Northwest Territories Power Corporation plant in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., in a file photo. (John Last/CBC - image credit)
A Northwest Territories Power Corporation plant in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., in a file photo. (John Last/CBC - image credit)

The head of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation says the corporation failed to meet its own expectations on the weekend when a series of outages hit the Yellowknife area.

In a news release Tuesday, Cory Strang, president and CEO of the power corporation, said they understand the frustration from community members.

"We must do better in the future," he wrote.

The power corporation offered a more detailed explanation Tuesday of the multiple factors contributing to the power outages.

The news release said issues began Saturday with trees falling in high winds.

Around dinner time on Saturday, a tree hit a transmission line at Snare Hydro, causing a system-wide outage for Yellowknife, Dettah and Behchokǫ.

A tree was also responsible for Sunday morning's first outage when it came in "full contact" with the transmission line. The power corporation sent a crew to remove the tree and inspect the line, as more high winds blew.

The power corporation said it had planned to remove dangerous trees later in September as part of its vegetation management plan.

"The tree that fell on the transmission line this weekend would likely have been removed during that process," the news release said.

Workers started restoring power using diesel, but ran into problems maintaining electrical stability — triggering the series of outages early Sunday afternoon.

The final outage, which began around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, was because of a faulty transformer at the Jackfish Generating Station.

Once the transformer was removed, the corporation said there were no further stability issues, and the system was brought back online with a combination of hydro from Bluefish and diesel units at Jackfish by 6:10 p.m.

The full restoration with hydro was done around 6:45 p.m. that evening, the corporation said.

It also said it is conducting an inspection of the transformer to figure out why it was not working properly on Sunday, and that it will "make necessary repairs" to the transformer before putting it back in service.

As well, the corporation said it will be looking into the automation issues that prevented the remote startup of the diesel generator at Frank's Channel.