July 16, 2014 4:38 pm

Board begins Nova Scotia Power review into Arthur cleanup, NB Premier says no formal review needed

Arthur brought high winds and heavy rains which toppled trees, and downed power lines knocking out power to more than 250,000 homes and businesses at the height of Saturday’s storm.

Laura Brown/Global News

HALIFAX – The review process looking into Nova Scotia Power’s readiness for post-tropical storm Arthur has begun.

In a letter written to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board, NS Premier Stephen McNeil asked the board to “immediately begin the review process.”

“Given the early nature of the storm season, I appreciate your agreement to undertake this in-depth review within a timely manner,” McNeil writes.

Yesterday, the utility’s CEO Bob Hanf was sent a letter by the the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board outlining exactly what they want from the company.

It took a week to completely reconnect all NS customers who were affected by the July 5th storm.

READ MORE: Video and images of damages left by post-tropical storm Arthur

The UARB is asking Nova Scotia Power for four things:

  • The cause of the power outages, what failed, an outline of the restoration efforts, and an explanation as to why it took the time it did to reestablish service
  • An outline of the communications system failures during the storm, particularly in light of similar failures during Hurricane Juan in 2003
  • Nova Scotia Power’s current practices for vegetation managed, like trimming trees around power lines, and whether those need to be changed
  • Finally, if there are any benchmarks that could measure Nova Scotia Power’s performance, for example, how it compares to other storms or power companies

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The UARB wants to investigate things that can be corrected quickly, keeping in mind hurricane season is just starting. Other things that may take longer to fix can be investigated on a longer timeline.

Members of the public will get a chance to voice their concerns as well.

New Brunswick Premier says no formal review needed

While Nova Scotia’s review process is getting started, NB Premier David Alward says he doesn’t feel like the province needs to go to the New Brunswick Energy and Utility Board for a review of NB Power.

“If we look at the ice storm that took place seven months ago, a month ago NB Power came out with the review they had done to learn and move forward from the last major storm that took place,” Alward said. “We’ll continue to do that work. My sense is that we don’t need to wait for the EUB to make that assessment, we need to be doing that assessment now.”

Twelve days after the storm, about 1,000 are still without power. NB Power says the last outages are those who have to be assessed on a case by case basis.

Last week,  NB Power’s CEO Gaëtan Thomas said there are things NB Power has learned from post-tropical storm Arthur, including their communication system.

“The system was not designed for the enormity of this massive restoration for this storm. We’ve had issues before and we have committed before the storm to have the system fixed by the fall. So we’re working on that. That’s one of the more important elements so we can better communicate with our customers,” Thomas said.

Arthur brought high winds and heavy rains which toppled trees, and downed power lines knocking out power to more than 250,000 homes and businesses at the height of the storm.

In Fredericton, city workers estimate over 4,000 trees have been damaged or destroyed by Arthur’s impact.

The storm, which was downgraded from a hurricane, dumped more than 140-millimetres of rain on parts of New Brunswick, according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre.

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