Power is back on for most West Shore homes after the region was slammed with a third windstorm in a week.
About 600 homes in Metchosin and more than 1,340 B.C. Hydro customers in north Langford, Highlands and the Malahat area went without power Thursday.
Ted Olynyk with B.C. Hydro said each windstorm weakens trees and roots making it easier for branches and debris to come down in subsequent storms.
“The first storm did all the dirty work for the next two storms,” Oynyk said. “First you get intense ground saturation with water, and that makes it a lot easier for stuff to fly down.”
B.C. Hydro crews continues to steel its power grid through vegetation management and connecting vulnerable circuits to redundant loops, but Olynyk said they’ll never eliminate outages.
“We can only hope to lessen the impact of duration and frequency,” he said.
When the smart meter grid comes online, Olynyk said B.C. Hydro will be able to pinpoint power outages as they happen, but people won’t be out of the picture.
“With smart meters, we’ll know power is out to an area, we’ll be able to have a granular look at which customers are out,” Olynyk said. “If it happens in the middle of the night when you’re sleeping, we’ll know before you do.”
B.C. Hydro crews currently “drive the line” to locate power outages, but even with smart meters, B.C. Hydro will depend on customer feedback.
“We still need people to call in if a tree is on a line or a line is down,” Olynyk said. “Smart meters won’t tell us the line is down. We need people to call in for safety reasons.”
B.C. Hydro has installed about 650,000 of the planned 1.8 million smart meters so far in across B.C. The system won’t go live until the majority of smart meters are installed.
Windstorms and trees with weakened root systems also damaged houses across the region. Dave Vangroningen, with Winmar insurance, has visited eight homes in the past few days due to storm damage.
“We’ve had two in Langord, including a sheetmetal roof the wind tore from the top of a house,” he said.
At a Park Drive home in Metchosin, a family had a tree slam into their roof at 1:45 a.m. Thursday morning, just missing the bedroom of a sleeping nine year old boy. The family was shaken but no one was injured.
Marylene Andrews and her four kids moved to the basement for the rest of the night. “I thought the whole house had caved in,” she said. “The ocean waves and the wind were really loud.”