Whitehorse Daily Star

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Big power outages plague Whitehorse, the Junction

Some Alaska Highway and North Klondike Highway residents were still without power at 11 a.m. today following a large outage at 3:30 this morning.

By Chuck Tobin on January 8, 2019

Some Alaska Highway and North Klondike Highway residents were still without power at 11 a.m. today following a large outage at 3:30 this morning.

General manager Jay Massie of ATCO Electric Yukon said in an interview this morning the outage affected approximately 2,000 customers.

The Whistle Bend subdivision, Porter Creek north, Crestview, the Alaska Highway west to the Takhini subdivision and the North Klondike Highway out to Deep Creek all lost power, he said.

“We had a broken wire on the main line just north of the city, right near the Mayo Road corner,” Massie said. “We’re not sure what caused it to break. It’s very odd.”

Massie said they will be examining the wire after they’re done restoring power.

As of 11 a.m., only the North Klondike Highway from the Hot Springs Road out to Deep Creek and the Alaska Highway was still out, he said.

The general manager said they expected to have everybody back on by 11:30 a.m.

Temperatures north of the city were hovering around -38 this morning.

He said power was re-routed to Whistle Bend, Porter Creek north and Crestview at 6:30.

“Everybody else had to wait until we got that wire back in the air.”

He said the Alaska Highway was back up at 9:15 but tripped off again a short time later. It was restored by 12:21.

Customers on the North Klondike up to the Hot Springs Road, including the Hot Springs Road, had power restored by 10:15.

Meanwhile, it’s been determined the cause of a lengthy power outage on Sunday in Haines Junction was a malfunction of one of the breakers, though it’s still unclear what caused the malfunction, Massie said.

Power to 500 customers in the community went out at 4:51 p.m. but was restored to 205 customers in five or 10 minutes.

Most of the 295 remaining customers had their lights back at 8:30 p.m. as temperatures hovered at around -40.

Between 30 and 40 customers, however, were without power for 5 1⁄2 hours.

Amy McKinnon of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations said they were on the verge of moving elders when the power came back on.

The communications manager said Champagne and Aishihik opened its community hall at the Takhini subdivision west of Whitehorse this morning after the power went out to provide any community members with a warm place to go if they needed it.

Energy consumption records maintained by Yukon Energy show that Sunday’s frigid temperatures caused the highest single-day energy demand of the winter so far.

Sunday’s demand peaked at 85.5 megawatts in generation as the temperature dipped to -35.

At mid-morning today, the demand on the grid was sitting at 80.1 megawatts, of which 61.7 megawatts or 77 per cent was provided by hydro and 19.3 megawatts was provided by diesel and natural gas generators.

The highest daily demand on record was set during a cold snap last February. At that time, the peak demand required 93 megawatts of generation at 7:44 a.m., with temperatures hovering at around -35.

After a frigid work week, Environment Canada is calling for temperatures to rise by Saturday to a daytime high of -11 and a nighttime low of -22.

Comments (15)

Up 14 Down 0

drum on Jan 13, 2019 at 5:27 pm

Thank you to all the crews who were called out and had to work for 10+ hours in -40 degree weather. Bless them many times over.

Up 25 Down 1

Jim on Jan 11, 2019 at 1:39 pm

Unfortunately, I cannot see any future hydro installations on the horizon. As it is now, the Ashihik hydro installation is fighting for its water licence while the CAFN are wanting it eliminated and the lake returned to what it previously was. That alone will reduce our capability for power production to 50% in the winter from what I’ve read. It’s great to see solar and wind projects being developed, but there will always be the issue of winter peak requirements when these cannot maintain supply.

Up 12 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Jan 11, 2019 at 1:24 pm

@ Geoff
"Perimeter people feeding off the host"? You are aware that there is only ONE electrical distribution plant in the Yukon apart from Old Crow which is a self-contained electrical network island. Generation being made at the Whitehorse hydro/generator plant, the Aishihik facility and the Mayo dam site. So there is no perimeter, we are all plugged into the same system paying the same rates, unless we are a mining company with a negotiated rate based on the capital costs we may have ponied up first. But please share your views about how we "Perimeter people" are receiving some kind of reduced rate deal.

Up 12 Down 5

Geoff on Jan 11, 2019 at 5:30 am

You perimeter people who have been feeding off the host for years at a reduced rate should be a little extra grateful for service received.
We can all give thanks and realize it's not too bad here for power restoration as compared to some places where it takes days to get back on the grid. Let's keep in mind these people get paid pretty good and receive a northern differential but frigid cold is still just that and pretty miserable to work in.

Up 20 Down 8

Karl on Jan 9, 2019 at 9:29 pm

The fact that a row of "temporary" CAT diesel gensets showed up in Yukon Energy's yard this year to power the majority of the Yukon suggests that there was some seriously bad planning at multiple levels.

Up 3 Down 21

Coincidence on Jan 9, 2019 at 3:58 pm

@Jonathan Colby - actually, yes I did read that. At the same time, I plugged in my car and the end popped off the cord because too much power was going to it. The power line could have been faulty (as was my plug to my car) and have too much power going to it and it snapped in the cold.

Up 19 Down 1

Dan Huntsman on Jan 9, 2019 at 1:58 pm

So 77% of recent demand is produced from hydroelectric and remaining 23% oil and gas. And the demand could be higher.

There is an abundance of information and many potential ways to increase production but it seems like it's always in the future when we need it now.

Up 62 Down 6

Groucho d'North on Jan 9, 2019 at 12:23 pm

As a home-owner afttected by the recent power interuption, I wish to extend my thanks to the many Atco staff who got out of their warm beds in the wee hours to go work outdoors in the dark sub thirty-something weather using trucks with frozen hydraulic systems, cold tools and brittle parts that break and add to risk and injury. Thank you for your service and making sure my house and its plumbing did not freeze. I hope you guys get paid better than the suits who want to raise our rates.

Up 5 Down 27

B monahan on Jan 9, 2019 at 8:02 am

Infrared heaters use the same power as a single lightbulb. If more people used them to heat their place there would be less power consumption.

Up 6 Down 5

drum on Jan 8, 2019 at 9:07 pm

I am a Mayo Road resident and power was out from 2:30 am to 11:15 am this morning (Tuesday).

Up 2 Down 35

drum on Jan 8, 2019 at 9:01 pm

We were without power for eight and a half hours and it was minus 42. We do not have wood heat because of Asthma concerns and advice from a doctor. If they do not know why it happened was it sabotage??

Up 13 Down 26

Hugh Mungus on Jan 8, 2019 at 7:10 pm

Both Yukon Energy and Yukon Electronic totally missed the boat in terms of planning. Electric heated houses are better for the environment as long as the electricity isn’t generated by diesel or LNG. This isn’t a new concept yet both outfits have essentially stood still in terms of capacity, if fact it could be argued that they gone on the complete irresponsible direction of adding an LNG plant versus going with wind, solar, hydro or even micronuclear.

Up 26 Down 19

drew on Jan 8, 2019 at 5:25 pm

Good old Yukon Electric, paying 1st world rates for a 3rd world infrastructure.

Up 20 Down 7

Jonathan Colby on Jan 8, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Coincidence, did you even read the story? There was a broken line. Broken for reasons unknown. So was it a coincidence? Yes. My goodness.

Up 64 Down 30

Coincidence on Jan 8, 2019 at 4:06 pm

Power goes out on the first day of major coldness in Whitehorse on the grid that has all of the newest, electric powered only houses built in the last few summers (Whistlebend)....coincidence??

They should build more infrastructure with all the extra money they gouge from us each year and quit blaming the consumer for "using too much". If I pay for it, I think I should be able to use it.

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