Nelson Hydro spent between $800,000 and $900,000 on repairs after the recent windstorm. About $500,000 to $600,000 of that was for immediate emergency response during and immediately after the storm, and the rest is still being spent on more long-term matters, says Hydro’s Alex Love.
He said although there were some equipment costs, “the lion’s share is labour costs.”
“It was definitely all hands on deck in the line department,” he said, “and we brought in several contractor crews, so we were definitely a bolstered work force, and some other staff were reallocated to assist in damage patrols.”
These expenses apply to Nelson Hydro only, and do not include costs incurred by public works crews cleaning up streets and parks. The city’s chief financial officer, Colin McClure, says those numbers are not yet finalized.
Love said Hydro is reviewing whether the costs will be covered by insurance, and he is looking into whether provincial emergency disaster funding might cover it.
He says the non-emergency work still being done (and included in the above-described costs) mostly involves replacing damaged poles or cross-arms, or dealing with leaning trees that would be brought down onto power lines by the next wind.
Love said the trees that were pruned last year, sometimes controversially, caused “minimal concerns and no damage” in the storm, reaffirming, that pruning was the right thing to do.
He said the extra costs this year are a concern and means they will be able to put less than usual into Hydro’s capital reserve.
“We have several million in our capital reserve and usually transfer about $2 million into it, but this year it will be less.
“It was a costly outage. I would be concerned if this happened yearly, but in the seven years I have been here this is the first time. The utility is financially healthy enough that we can weather it on an occasional basis.”