August 19, 2014 2:42 pm

Nova Scotia Power blames bad forecast for Arthur response problems

HALIFAX – Nova Scotia Power says higher than forecast winds in areas with an abundance of roadside trees were among the challenges it faced in restoring electricity to tens of thousands of customers following post-tropical storm Arthur.

The power company filed a report to the province’s Utility and Review Board Tuesday outlining its response to the July 5 storm.

In the 172-page report (see below), the utility acknowledges the considerable impact to customers who waited days for their power to be restored after the storm hit.

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Report breakdown

The report is broken down into four parts covering the various issues Nova Scotia Power encountered leading up to, during and in the aftermath of post-tropical storm Arthur:

1. What failed and why

Nova Scotia Power said higher-than-forecast winds along with “an abundance” of roadside trees in “full early summer leaf” made things worse than its modelling had predicted.

The company said while its damage prediction model for emergency restoration didn’t fail, the forecast used for planning purposes “significantly underestimated” the storm’s impact.

2. Why communications broke down

The power utility says its website crashed under the weight of tens of thousands of requests per hour, and that it received more than 300 calls per minute during peak times. In total, it received 425,000 calls relating to Arthur — more than the 418,000 it received for Hurricane Juan in 2003.

It also said capacity was reduced after technical problems occurred with its telecommunications supplier.

Outages that affected fewer than 100 people were not recognized by the system the company uses to estimate power restoration times, which meant about 30,000 customers spread across 3,400 outages were without power but had no formal acknowledgement of it.

3. How vegetation has been managed

The utility also said the government needs to institute rules that prevent trees from being planted in areas that conflict with power lines. It said it has spent $12 million or more annually on “vegetation management” in the past five years.

4. How NSPI performance compared

Nova Scotia Power said a consultant found its response to Arthur to be “within the industry norm when compared to other utilities [in North America] responding to similar storms.”

Read the full report below:

With files from Brett Ruskin, Global News

© Shaw Media, 2014

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