01/08/2014 07:07 EST | Updated 03/10/2014 05:59 EDT

Newfoundland blackout investigation needed: consumer advocate

Newfoundland and Labrador's consumer advocate is calling for an investigation into how the province's power system practically collapsed during the last week.

Tom Johnson, the lawyer who holds the arm's-length appointment with the Newfoundland and Labrador government, said answers are needed to explain how Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro lost power, at times knocking out electricity for 190,000 households and other customers across the island.

Johnson said he would like the Public Utilities Board (PUB) to do an investigation, although he said a full-blown inquiry is not needed.

"If there was anything that could have been done differently in the circumstances as known and not with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight now, because that's always perfect, but with the benefit of normal prudency and reasonableness," Johnson said.

Newfoundland Power started rolling outages last Thursday, after demand on Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's resources outstripped its energy supply.

A fire at a substation in Sunnyside on Saturday morning knocked out power across the island, just as a blizzard had ended. On Sunday night, another widespread outage occurred when the Holyrood power station failed as crews tried to bring the plant's third and final machine online.

Johnson said he would like to see the PUB "determine what the facts are and let the public know because I think they obviously have a legitimate interest and customers have a legitimate interest in knowing what transpired."

Nalcor to meet with PUB today

Meanwhile, officials with Nalcor Energy, the Crown corporation that generates electricity through Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, will be meeting with the PUB on Wednesday afternoon.

Nalcor CEO Ed Martin said the meeting will mark the start of a reporting process, and one that said is necessary to determine what went wrong.

"We've been obviously collecting our information. It's a good time for us to go over and give a more in-depth view," Martin said.

"They may have some thoughts and suggestions which would be welcomed," said Martin, who has noted repeatedly over the last week that Nalcor has been working with infrastructure that is several decades old.