Halifax residents unify voices over Nova Scotia Power concerns

Halifax neighborhood experiencing frequent power surges and outages
WATCH: Residents of a Halifax neighbourhood say the surges and outages of electricity have been responsible for damage to appliances, and they want N.S. Power to fix the problem. Alexa MacLean has more.
Several homeowners in a Clayton Park neighbourhood have unified their voices in bringing concerns over frequent power outages and surges to the attention of Nova Scotia Power [NSP].

The collective of 11 neighbours reference one particular power surge as being especially intense, resulting in significant damage to homes and skyrocketing safety concerns.

“When you get flames inside your house, this is not safe. What if this happens during the nighttime, what if it happens when nobody’s home?” Munis Karimzoda said, a residential homeowner in Clayton Park and Nova Scotia Power customer.

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Residents penned their names to a letter addressed to NSP in October. Several concerns were listed, including requests to update power and electrical equipment in the area, and reimbursement for thousands of dollars worth of appliances that had to be replaced in several homes.

READ MORE: Report says hurricane Dorian’s $38.9 million cost highest in NS Power’s history

NSP sent a response letter to the residents nearly two months later. The delay leaves many residents feeling exasperated and questioning whether NSP is taking their concerns seriously.

“I’m just frustrated. The amount of time and energy that the neighbours and I have put into this, it’s just draining,” said Nicholas Graham, a fellow homeowner.

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NSP says they’re working with the concerned customers to develop an improved power plan, and that while customers do have the option of filing claims, when weather is to blame for any incidents, those claims aren’t approved.

“If there was a case where through our own actions, or inaction, we were deemed to be liable then we do pay those claims. Unfortunately, in this case weather was the contributing factor in all these cases and that’s why we deemed that those claims were not eligible,” Jennifer Parker said, the customer care director with Nova Scotia Power.

The reply letter NSP sent to the residents states that “customer-owned trees” that broke during poor weather are also to blame for removing an “important connection to a transformer.”

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The letter goes on to state that tree trimming is a shared responsibility and customers are responsible for tree maintenance on their properties because they can pose risks to the power system.

That’s a response Graham finds frustrating.

“The tree that fell and caused the power surge wasn’t on our property. So am I then supposed to go to the neighbour where the tree was and say, ‘You’re responsible for this damage?'” Graham said.

NSP faults damage caused by Hurricane Dorian as a leading contributor to equipment needing to be replaced in the neighbourhood at a faster rate than normal.

READ MORE: Canadian Forces to help Halifax with massive post-Dorian cleanup

Residents say that doesn’t really add up because they’ve heard for years from technicians on the ground that the equipment has been faulty.

“Not by NSP, by people who work on the lines themselves, the actual technicians who come and fix things and then also private electricians who come to do work for them as well. Have all said that, that they don’t maintain the equipment properly,” Graham said.

Nova Scotia Power says they’re working on an ongoing basis to improve service to the area and part of that includes tree trimming, which is slated to begin this February.

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“We’re not talking about 100 foot trees here. Upgrade the equipment so it can withstand the kind of storms we have,” Graham said.