Red Arrow
Tuesday February 14th, 2012  
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Quote of the Week
"A message has to be sent... to take less of a profit and provide better service to your customers"
- Mayor Bruce Decoux  


Both FortisAlberta and AltaLink are planning to repair and restructure transmission lines and projects in the area, representatives told Crowsnest Pass Municipal Council last week.
Two representatives from each of the electrical companies attended the Council meeting on
Tuesday, February 7th, and apprised Council of current initiatives in the area, as well as providing an overview of the series of power failures which were experienced late last fall.
FortisAlberta Regional Director of South Operations Todd Detling took Council through the details of the period of nearly two months when the community experienced several power bumps, which began on October 17th, when an AltaLink transmission line fell on a Fortis line, resulting in a two minute power outage.
Following that, on October 30th and 31st, signs of tripping (power bumps) were observed on a Fortis line and a live line repair was made.
On November 1st, the problem was identified on a broken section of line and a second repair was made, allowing for temporary reprieve from tripping.
From November 12th to 14th, a series of five trip and close events was experienced, prompting crews to install monitoring equipment.
The problem (a frayed line and two broken insulators caused by gun shots) was identified on November 16th and a third repair was made.
High winds on November 26th then led to another series of trip and close events due to lines slapping together.
Crews located the lines and replaced 15 seven-foot wide crossarms, increasing them to nine-feet-wide in order to prevent the lines from slapping together further.
Three days later, a conductor separated during a violent windstorm on November 29th, causing the 138 kV AltaLink transmission line to fall on top of the 25 kV FortisAlberta distribution line, resulting in a 63-minute power outage and damage to several electrical appliances and equipment.
From December 1st to 6th, a series of 16 more trip and close events was experienced throughout the community, before the flashing line causing the problem was located near the Coleman Collieries property and crews made a fifth and final repair by again replacing a crossarm and increasing the spacing of the lines.
Detling said Fortis-Alberta received 40 damage claims resulting from the November 29th to December 6th power failures, and that they are currently working with those people.
John Grove, AltaLink’s Municipal and Community Relations Manager said AltaLink is also dealing with several insurance claims resulting from the November 29th event.

“We believe that situation was quite well handled, given the terrain our crews were working in,” said Grove.
“It was an unfortunate situation,” said Detling.
“We kept believing we had it solved because it settled down for a day or two but then it would happen again.”
Detling said the company learned a lot from the experience and hopes that the several initiatives it has planned for the area will reduce the likelihood of this happening in the future.
“We believe we have that addressed and if it happens again, we believe we will be able to handle it a lot better,” he said.
Detling informed Council that Fortis is currently planning $1.7 million in reliability initiative expenditures for the Crowsnest Pass area in 2012, including storm hardening to lines, increasing the length of crossarms to spread out the circuit, increasing access to areas of the line for crews, and pole replacements.
“We are putting these in place on a regular basis,” said Detling, adding that the company will be presenting some projects to the Municipality over the coming months for review and approval.
He said projects will include rebuilding and storm hardening of the Bluff Mountain line, storm hardening of crossarms on the 181 kV line which runs north of Highway 3 between Blairmore and Coleman, replacing 401 vintage poles which are at the end of their lifecycle, and constructing a small tie-line on an eight kilometre section of the line which runs between Cowley and Lundbreck.
“That will allow us to provide some additional feed into the valley,” said Detling.
“The idea behind building the tie circuit is to try to minimize outages - that being said, some outages will be experienced, but they will be planned and limited in duration.”
Grove informed Council that rerouting of the AltaLink line which runs north of Frank will take place between February and August and that it will also mean intermittent power disruptions.
He added that the company is currently awaiting direction from the Alberta Electrical System Operator (AESO) regarding the controversial Fidler line, the proposed route option for which was rejected last fall.
Councillor Andrew Saje said he was glad to see that the companies are changing their communication protocols, as that was one of the biggest obstacles throughout the series of power failures.
Mayor Bruce Decoux thanked the representatives of both companies for coming to speak to Council but added that both companies are losing credibility among local customers as a result of the ordeal.
“People are not pleased with the service they’ve got,” said Mayor Decoux.
“A message has to be sent to those people at the top to take less of a profit and provide better service to your customers.”
“If you could present that message that we expect better treatment here in the Crowsnest Pass, we would be very appreciative of that,” said Mayor Decoux.
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