01/10/2014 12:41 EST | Updated 03/12/2014 05:59 EDT

Newfoundland power outage to undergo public inquiry

Newfoundland and Labrador's Public Utilities Board (PUB) said today it will launch a formal inquiry into why the island's power system practically collapsed over the last week in the wake of a massive storm. 

In a statement, the PUB said it will also hold a public hearing to look at why Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro's system broke down several times. 

Almost all of Newfoundland lost electrical power on Saturday when a fire at a substation in Sunnyside triggered a collapse at the Holyrood generating station. The next night, another massive power outage occurred when a breaker at the Holyrood switchyard malfunctioned. 

The PUB, which regulates electrical distribution in the province, said it will draft the "process and timelines" for its inquiry over the coming days. 

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has come in for hefty criticism in the last week, as it disclosed that its aging equipment was not able to generate enough power to meet consumer demand that was significantly higher than expected. Some of the Crown agency's assets were not able to work because of maintenance or faults. 

The island-wide outages came in the middle of a series rolling blackouts that began Jan. 2 and ended Jan. 8. Newfoundland Power, the private company that sells Newfoundland and Labrador's energy to most consumers, was forced to use the rolling blackouts to manage a limited supply with outpacing demand. 

More to come