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Nova Scotia Power (NSP) is responding to the CBRM council’s request that the company respond to questions and concerns from residents about the increase in power outages in some areas of the municipality since Hurricane Fiona.


A NSP spokesperson told The Third that representatives from the company will be meeting with the mayor and council next week to hear more about the concerns. Councillors James Edwards and Darren Bruckschwaiger confirmed that the company is meeting with the council this Tuesday.


About 415,000 thousand Nova Scotians lost power as a result of the storm. Some in The Third went almost two weeks without power. Since the hurricane, some residents have complained about frequent power outages.


James Edwards represents District 8, one of the hardest hit areas during the two-day weather event. He initiated the upcoming meeting because of concerns from his constituents. He represents Glace Bay, Caledonia, and Louisbourg which experienced some of Fiona’s worst wrath.


“I want to know exactly what the problem is,” said Edwards. “What is going on in terms of the frequency but also the length of outages. During Christmas some people went without power for two days. That is a long time to go without heat, food can spoil, and medical equipment does not work.”


He says that years ago “the power never went out” in the area and he wants to know why it is happening so frequently in his district.


“The night before last the power went out two times. I want to know why.”


That is what NSP plans to do next week.


“We will also provide an update on the work we’ve been doing to improve reliability of service on the island since Hurricane Fiona,” said Jacqueline Foster, a NSP spokesperson. “Tree trimming across the province is a priority for us as we know trees coming into contact with power lines is the main reason for outages, particularly during storms. We are planning to spend around $45 million this year, which is up 40 percent from the $32 million spent last year and nearly double our tree trimming investments across the province over the five years before that. About $6 million of this annual investment will be in Cape Breton in 2024.”  


Post Fiona Cleanup 


Foster said that post-storm cleanup is standard practice after every storm because it is important work to prevent future outages during storms. “In the weeks that followed Hurricane Fiona, we had more than 100 forestry workers in the field, who were dedicated to the cleanup,” she said. “They removed over 10,000 trees from near our power lines.  Much of this work was done in Cape Breton, which was one of the areas hardest hit by Fiona.”


Millions Spent on Upgrades since Fiona 


Since Hurricane Fiona, NSP says it has invested approximately $30 million in its transmission and distribution system in Cape Breton. “Some of this investment includes the replacement of equipment following our restoration efforts in response to that historic event with equipment that is more resilient to the significant winds we experience during major storms,” says Foster.


“We have invested approximately $2.5 million in equipment upgrade projects aimed at improving reliability in Cape Breton, like relocating infrastructure closer to the roadside and installing taller, higher quality poles that are more resilient to extreme weather.”


According to NSP, since 2015, it has cleared trees and branches from about 130 km of power line on the island each year. Last year it trimmed trees and widened rights of way along 150 kms of power lines on the island that cost approximately $4.5 million.  


Darren Bruckwaiger represents District 10, which includes Gardiner Mines and Dominion. He says that it is great news to hear of NSP’s investment in the municipality and beyond, but he says the company needs to do better to keep the power on.


“They can’t just keep putting rates up,” he says. “The power has gone out four or five times in the last two months between lower Dominion and Gardiner Mines.”


“What’s going on? We want them to do better.”


Bruckwaiger says that it is up to the management at NSP to solve the problem. “NSP workers are doing an excellent job. They are out in all conditions doing dangerous work. Management needs to do better so that the workers are not in those dangerous situations in bad weather conditions.”


He said that maybe it is time to consider where we plant trees. “Maybe trees shouldn’t be planted so close to power lines. The weather is changing, and we need to use common sense.”


He says that although the trees that cause damage to power lines are often on private property, the community pays the price when they take out power lines. “Trees near power lines and roads are dangerous. We need to adjust to the changing weather, like we are doing with the coastline.”



 Representational Image from

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