06/25/2014 06:37 EDT | Updated 08/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Repairs on track to avoid repeat of January's outages, says Newfoundland utility

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro says it is on track with needed repairs and upgrades to its systems after widespread outages in January left tens of thousands of customers in the dark.

An interim report released last month by the board of commissioners of the province's public utilities said several failures by the utility led to the outages, including delays in maintenance and testing of key equipment.

The report outlined a series of actions the utility should complete before next winter to avoid similar problems.

Earlier this week, Liberal critic Danny Dumaresque questioned whether the utility would be prepared in time for next winter.

The utility says it is following up on all of the actions contained in the public utilities board report and annual maintenance is underway.

It also says it has purchased a 100-megawatt combustion turbine, which is expected to arrive in mid-August.

Planned rotating outages on the island of Newfoundland started Jan. 2 as electricity demands spiked amid unusually cold temperatures. A public call to conserve energy went out that day before rolling blackouts began.

But massive unplanned blackouts Jan. 4 and 5 were blamed first on a transformer fire and then a separate breaker malfunction that threw the province's thermal power plant in Holyrood offline.

Generating equipment that might have helped make up the resulting shortfall was down for maintenance.


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