SOURCE: PowerStream Inc.

PowerStream

March 04, 2015 16:00 ET

PowerStream Restores Power Following Multiple Pole Fires

Multiple Power Outages Due to Pole Fires Throughout the Night Affected Thousands of Customers

VAUGHAN, ON--(Marketwired - March 04, 2015) - Freezing rain and ice pellets interacting with the road salt residue that had encrusted electrical poles and equipment stirred up by vehicle traffic over the winter months, ignited several pole fires that resulted in lengthy power outages for more than 25,000 customers across PowerStream's service area on Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning.

Customers of other utilities in the Greater Toronto Area experienced outages caused by the same combination of factors that saw more than 25,000 PowerStream customers affected in several municipalities including Barrie, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, Aurora and Bradford West Gwillimbury. This figure does not include customers who experienced momentary outages.

Insulators and other equipment mounted on hydro poles along main thoroughfares are the most susceptible to accumulating road salt contamination. Under environmental conditions of near zero degrees Celsius temperature and with certain types of precipitation occurring (such as light rain, freezing rain, and wet snow), the contaminated surfaces can create an electrical path to the grounded pole. This phenomenon can be short-lived, known as a flash-over, or can be a sustained flow of current. The sustained flow of current may cause the pole to begin overheating and eventually catch fire and burn to a point of collapse.

As the number of power outages in PowerStream's service area began to increase on Tuesday evening, additional supervisors, crews and support contractors were called in to work to assist in restoration efforts that continued through the night and well into Wednesday.

All PowerStream customers were expected to have their power restored by late afternoon or early evening on Wednesday.

QUOTES

"Normally, PowerStream takes advantage of periods of warmer than seasonal temperatures throughout the winter to implement a washing program for the electrical equipment on poles -- a practice that is meant to prevent this type of phenomenon from occurring," said Eric Fagen, PowerStream Vice President, Corporate Communications. "Unfortunately, the prolonged cold weather has resulted in more salt being applied to roads, which has also delayed us from beginning our annual pole washing program."

BACKGROUND

  • At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3, 2015, a series of power outages began in the south end of Barrie affecting 3,500 PowerStream customers. This was followed by major power outages affecting Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Aurora and Bradford West Gwillimbury.
  • Changing weather conditions caused additional pole fires and outages in the south end of PowerStream's service territory. By 11:30 p.m., more than 25,000 customers were without power including over 10,000 in Vaughan.
  • By 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4th, power had been restored to all but 200 customers in PowerStream's service area.

ABOUT POWERSTREAM

PowerStream is a community-owned energy company providing power and related services to more than 370,000 customers residing or owning a business in communities located immediately north of Toronto and in Central Ontario. It is jointly owned by the Cities of Barrie, Markham and Vaughan.

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