Energy Matters – March 2018

Included with this month’s Energy Matters:

Power Smart tip

Use the smallest appliance possible to make a meal. Slow cookers are an energy-saving alternative to a conventional oven.

What causes a power outage?

Our job is to ensure a safe and reliable supply of electricity.

Despite having one of the most reliable systems in the world, we know on average a Manitoba Hydro customer experiences at least one power outage a year.

To reduce the frequency and duration of power outages in Manitoba, we’re working throughout the province to replace the older parts of our system. We’re also making greater use of technology to help us respond to outages more quickly.

Most outages are beyond our control. Ice storms, high winds, blizzards, long cold spells and severe thunderstorms can cause a sudden power outage. A fire, traffic collision or fallen tree can also damage a power line or cause electrical equipment to fail.

Over the last five years, we’ve collected information on outages that tell us what more we can do to improve reliability. Improvements include installing animal guards on equipment where we’ve seen outages due to wildlife contact, or prioritizing tree-trimming in areas that have seen a high number of outages due to branches contacting lines.

We have also seen an increasing number of outages in recent years caused by agricultural, construction and snow removal equipment contacting a power line or wood pole. This information helps us develop safety programs for our customers operating large and heavy motor vehicles.

What the numbers say

The most common reasons for power outages in our province are:

  1. Adverse weather, lightning, tree contacts
    (33% of outages 2013–2017)
    • High winds can bring down trees and branches causing them to contact power lines.
    • Lightning hitting power lines or other equipment.
    • A storm resulting in heavy snow or ice on power lines can cause them to break.
    • A wood pole or structure fire.
  2. Equipment failure, adverse environment
    (33% of outages 2013–2017)
    • Downed power lines.
    • A broken or fallen pole or old or aging infrastructure.
    • A failure with our equipment such as a faulted transformer, failed line fuse or a problem at one of our substations.
    • Equipment failure due to technical problems or abnormal environmental conditions (fire, flood, corrosion).
  3. Foreign interference
    (15% of outages from 2013–2017)
    • Raccoons, squirrels and other animals can cause short circuits by contacting power lines or other equipment.
    • Birds landing on power lines or transformers can trip fuses.
    • Objects, such as shoes or kites, hanging from power lines.
    • Vehicle collisions involving power lines, poles or other equipment.
    • Heavy equipment, such as a crane at a construction site, coming into contact with an overhead power line.
    • Excavation or digging by contractors or the public without proper line locations and clearances cutting underground wires.

If the power goes out

We dispatch our crews as quickly as possible. When they arrive at the trouble spot, they may find a situation that will take as little as 30 minutes or as long as 12 hours to safely repair. It all depends on the amount of the damage and the conditions in which crews are working.

We do our best to provide you with an accurate estimated time of restoration as soon as we can, but severe weather, road conditions and the amount of damage sometimes makes it difficult for us to estimate when service will be restored.

You can help us to restore service by reporting an outage on your smartphone. Reporting the outage tells us your location and assists our crews in their response.

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Keep your gas meter clear

Throughout winter (and especially after a storm,) keep an eye on your natural gas meter and external vents for snow or ice buildup.

Snow and ice create a safety hazard because a buildup on the gas meter can block the vent and allow excess gas pressure into your home causing an appliance to malfunction.

Accumulated snow and ice can put stress on the meter piping and could cause a gas leak.

Sidewall external vents are common in high efficiency natural gas furnace and water heating installations. Keep the area around these vents clear to ensure safe operation of the equipment.

It takes just a few minutes to keep your home safe with these tips:

  • Check your gas meter, gas piping and vents regularly for snow and ice build-up.
  • Gently remove snow from your natural gas meter with a broom or your hand.
  • When shovelling, don’t pile snow against gas equipment or vents.
  • Keep an eye out for leaky eavestroughs. They should be repaired over the summer to prevent ice and melting snow from dripping onto the natural gas meter next winter.
  • Remove large icicles hanging over your meter and appliance vents.
  • Avoid using a snow blower in the area of your natural gas meter.
  • Never kick or hit the gas meter or its piping to break off ice or snow.

If you have difficulty removing the snow or ice from your gas meter or regulator, call Manitoba Hydro at 1-888-624-9376 (1-888-MBHYDRO).

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Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society leads the fight against ALL forms of cancer with promising research and community-based programs that support Manitobans living with cancer. In March and April, support the Cancer Society by:

  • purchasing daffodils at locations throughout the province;
  • giving generously when a volunteer canvasser knocks on your door;
  • donating now at Canadian Cancer Society website;
  • joining Canada’s largest cancer-fighting effort by bringing friends and family together for Relay For Life website.

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