NEWS

Newfoundland power stable as nasty weather sweeps in

01/09/2014 07:02 EST | Updated 03/11/2014 05:59 EDT
The Newfoundland and Labrador government allowed public schools across the island to open today, although the weather had other plans.

Meanwhile, Ed Martin, the head of Crown-owned Nalcor Energy, apologized for the distress that collapses in the electrical system have caused to people who shivered for days in freezing, dark homes. 

Rolling outages that had become an unwanted way of life across Newfoundland for most of the last week concluded on Wednesday night, allowing the government to reopen schools.

But stormy weather, including snowsqualls that were hitting the island's west and east coasts Thursday, was nasty enough to close schools in Conception Bay, the southern Avalon Peninsula and in some west coast communities, including Rocky Harbour. Some schools were aiming to reopen in the afternoon.

In Labrador, which was not affected by the power collapse of the last week, severe wind chill kept primary students in Labrador City and Wabush out of school for at least the morning, the second day in a row that such a decision had to be made. The all-grade school in Nain, on Labrador's northern coast, was also closed for at least the morning because of poor weather conditions.

The turn in the weather will be accompanied by deeply cold temperatures in many parts of the province. That will likely put more strain on the island's troubled electrical system, which is returning to normal capacity.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, which generates power sold across the province, was able to bring its third and final generating unit at the aging plant in Holyrood online on Wednesday evening.

Nalcor boss apologizes

Martin told CBC News on Thursday that the system performed well overnight and he is confident that rolling outages are behind the Crown corporation, which operates Hydro, as well as Newfoundland Power, the private company that sell much of that power to consumers.

"I'm even more confident than yesterday," Martin said.

Nalcor was caught off guard last week when its hobbled generating capacity was unable to meet the demand that soared in part because of a New Year's cold snap.

Nalcor is also investigating why its power system fell apart over the weekend, including a fire at the Sunnyside substation and then a blown breaker at the switchyard at the Holyrood generating plant.

"I really know how difficult it's been, for many, many people. We've been working with that in mind during every second of every day," Martin said.

"We apologize for having it happen. We really do." 

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