Energy Matters – July 2017

Power Smart tip

One solar panel produces enough electricity to run your kitchen lights.

Why is my power out?

Electricity is essential to modern life. You use it in so many ways, you often forget it’s there — until it isn’t.

We work hard at ensuring you have power all the time, but outages happen.

Thunderstorms are a common cause of summer power outages. Lightning strikes, high winds and broken trees cause a high number of power failures.

But there are other causes of outages — many preventable.

About 30% of outages each year are caused by vehicles and machinery contacting our power lines and poles.

For example, last December a large truck with an extended auger boom caused an outage affecting up to 250 customers north of Brandon. The operator had neglected to secure the boom. As the truck drove down the highway, the boom swung out. It broke 10 poles and damaged other electrical equipment over about 40 kilometres before police stopped the vehicle. The last affected customer had their power restored 13 hours later.

Outages like this one can be reduced with careful planning and awareness. For large machinery, an Agricultural Equipment Move permit from Manitoba Hydro is required when the height is over 4.8 metres (15′ 7″).

“It’s important to not be complacent around electrical equipment,” says Ed Kuypers, damage prevention coordinator for Manitoba Hydro.

Kuypers adds there have been a few incidents over the years where operators have been shocked — and some killed — when their machinery contacted overhead power lines.

“If you see or cause downed or sagging wires, report it immediately so you don’t put yourself or others at risk and we can get out to repair the damage,” he says.

Here are some other outages we’ve responded to that could have been avoided. No one was injured in these examples:

March 15 — An over-height truck pulled down two poles near Anola. Both poles needed replacing. The driver said he was unaware of the height of his truck and trailer. Outage time: 5 hours.

March 16 — A dump truck was hauling snow to a location near Russell. It dumped its load of snow and the driver forgot to lower the dump box on the truck as he drove away. It contacted power lines and broke a pole. Outage time: 5 hours.

April 5 — A truck travelling north on Archibald Street lost control and hit a wood streetlight pole. The pole had to be replaced. Outage time: 6 hours.

April 12 — A power line near Portage la Prairie was torn down. The live wires were found tangled in a nearby farm yard. About 120 customers were out of power from 6:45 p.m. to 7 p.m. to repair damage and restore service with three customers out of power until 9:45 p.m. It’s unknown who or what pulled down the line — no one took responsibility.

May 2 — A semi truck and trailer with a trailer-mounted auger was parked under a power line near Portage la Prairie. The operator lifted the auger. It contacted the line. The truck caught fire. The operator was not injured, but did report feeling a shock in his right hand and arm. Outage time: 2 hours.

May 2 — A farmer near Morden was operating a large seeder when it contacted a power line. The seeder did not have proper clearance to safely pass under the line. There was an outage to two customers for 5 hours.

May 5 — An employee with a farm fertilizer company was driving a large sprayer into a field near Russell. The unit caught a pole and broke it. The operator stayed in the unit until Manitoba Hydro arrived and safely de-energized the fallen power line. Outage time: 2 hours.

May 17 — A contractor was installing a septic tank near Garson. A Click Before You Dig line locate was scheduled, but the contractor did not wait before excavating. He hit an underground electric cable. Outage time: 30 minutes.

May 18 — A tractor hit a pole at the end of a field near Killarney. This caused a major outage to 4,500 customers in Killarney, Cartwright, Baldur and Neelin. The pole was replaced. Outage time: 10 hours.

May 19 — A tractor was pulling a cultivator near Carman. It ripped down a power line and broke four poles. The four poles were replaced. Outage time: 12 hours.

When outages happen, visit on your smart phone or mobile device to learn more about the power failure affecting your area. Our new Outage Map will show you if anyone has reported your outage. The map is updated every 15 minutes and includes the time the first customer reported an outage and the number of customers an outage affects.

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Parkinson Canada

More than 6,500 Manitobans, some as young as 20, live with Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson Canada in Manitoba offers education presentations, peer-led support and exercise groups, Info Line (1-800-565-3000), webinars, print, the Parkinson Canada website and more. We advocate to influence public policy and to support innovative research.

Join us! Participate or support our SuperWalks in September: visit the SuperWalk website to register or donate.

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