POLITICS

Nova Scotia Power to improve forecasting, website after tropical storm

09/16/2014 01:28 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:53 EDT
HALIFAX - Nova Scotia Power agrees with a consultant's report that recently concluded it needs more detailed weather forecasting services and an improved website when storms hit.

The utility said Tuesday it will act on a critique of its response to post-tropical storm Arthur filed last week by Liberty Consulting Group for the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board.

In a report filed with the Utility and Review Board on Tuesday, Nova Scotia Power agrees to act on almost all of the 32 findings by the consultant on ways to improve its response.

The company concedes its weather modelling didn't foresee the amount of damage to power lines and says it will hire an additional forecaster.

Post-tropical storm Arthur hit the province on July 5, leaving about 245,000 customers without power. In some cases, it took up to seven days for people to see their power restored.

Nova Scotia Power says in its report that it plans to improve its website by the end of the month so that it can cope with high demand for information that occurs during storms, and it is also planning to meet recommendations that it assess damaged equipment more quickly after storms hit.

The company, a subsidiary of Emera (TSX:EMA), says it concurs with the provincial Energy Department that more people qualified in damage assessment should be in areas where storms are expected to arrive.

Response times to downed trees and other problems will be improved, the report adds.

"Some elements of this recommendation can be addressed immediately, followed by continued staged improvements in the following months," it says.

Nova Scotia Power also says it will act on a recommendation that it start a scheduled program of tree trimming in some rural areas.

More than 90 per cent of the outages that came after Arthur hit were due to trees hitting power lines and other equipment, the company says.

But the report says costs are a concern as it attempts to improve its storm response.

"In all matters moving forward from this review, Nova Scotia Power maintains that affordability for customers must be a key consideration in developing solutions."