30,000 Calgarians in Dark Due to Downed Overhead Power Lines
A wicked snowstorm hit southern Alberta this week, leaving thousands in the dark due to downed overhead power lines, especially in Calgary.
The Calgary Herald reported, “Enmax spokesperson Doris Kaufmann Woodcock said at one point 30,000 customers were in the dark, some of them for upwards of 12 hours”. Fallen trees weighed down by heavy wet snow were the main culprits in bringing down power lines and causing widespread power outages across Calgary. Schools in both the public and Catholic system experienced power outages, and dozens of traffic lights went out, bringing traffic to a crawl.
Environment Canada said between 20 and 35 centimetres of snow fell in the Calgary area.
Overhead power lines – transmission and distribution lines – are vulnerable to the weather and many other factors that leave thousands of customers without power every day in North America. In particular, snow and ice storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and other high windstorms cause major disruptions that have resulted in deaths, injuries, damaged property and goods, lost productivity and other economic losses. Local politicians across Canada and the United States have asked, “Why aren’t all of our power lines buried so they would not be vulnerable to inclement weather conditions and the high costs of repairing downed infrastructure?” Calgary’s municipal politicians will undoubtedly be asking the same question over the next few weeks.
This link provides more information on power outages across North America. For more information on the many benefits of burying power lines, see this link. When the capital, maintenance and transmission loss costs are combined over the life of a line, underground power lines can be less expensive than overhead lines.