Cause of Saturday’s power outage unknown

Some 2,800 Salmon Arm residents were without power for up to an hour and 45 minutes Saturday morning and nobody knows why.

Some 2,800 Salmon Arm residents were without power for up to an hour and 45 minutes Saturday morning and nobody knows why.

BC Hydro community relations rep Gene Bryant says a circuit breaker was tripped at the Five Corners substation at 7:05 with the last of the service restored at 8:43 a.m.

While the circuit breaker did its job after detecting a fault in the line, the time-consuming visual inspection failed to turn up any clues on the outage.

“We don’t know where it was,” said Bryant yesterday, noting unless someone calls the company to report an accident or downed lines, the whole system has to be visually inspected. “We look for open fuses, branches, a car in a ditch, and most often we don’t find anything.”

Following a lengthy visual inspection, workers return and re-energize the system. Bryant describes the process as being “almost ancient technology,” and points to the benefits Hydro’s so-called Smart Meters will provide.

The Smart Grid and Smart Meters, which are expected to be  online by the end of 2012, will allow the company to immediately pinpoint the cause of the outage and crews will be dispatched to the site in question.

Bryant is well-aware of the controversy around the new meters, but maintains there is no cause for concern. He says the meters’ radio frequency levels are far below industry standards and broadcast for less than one minute per day.

“It pulses, pings, sends out a message that tells the system ‘I’m still on and everything is OK.’

“It’s really small where all these other exposures are generally 24-7,” he says of the electromagnetic radiation associated with radio broadcasting, taxis, forest services, fire departments and others. He also points to people’s exposure to the radiation generated by computers, cordless phones and Wi-Fi Internet service.

“You could stand next to a Smart Meter for 20 years and you’re gonna get less exposure than a 30-minute cell phone call.”

While understanding public concern, Bryant says he believes many people are buying into alarmist information available on the Internet and suggests people look further into available scientific research.




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