Nelson Hydro’s operations manager says his crews put in some “superhuman efforts” to restore power after a heavy snow storm on New Year’s Eve.
“They worked long hours and gave up time with their families,” Neal Dermody told the Star.
Normally in storm situations Nelson Hydro hires contractors to help out. But because of the holiday there were few available, he said.
His crews spent the night repairing lines after clearing fallen trees and branches from them.
“There were lots conductors torn off, broken cross-arms and insulators, the result of trees quite a way off the right-of-way coming down on the line,” he said. “We had done a lot of vegetation management this year and it would have been worse had we not done that. But with the wet snow there were trees quite a ways off the corridor that came down.”
That was especially the case in Balfour and Queens Bay, he said, resulting in a longer outages in that area.
Dermody said it didn’t help that Hydro’s 24-hour information phone line was also knocked out by a fallen tree, making it impossible for customers to get updates.
Hydro’s vegetation management program – cutting branches and trees to prevent them coming down on a line during a future storm – is controversial with customers, Dermody said.
“Nelson is a very green community, so we always have to walk a fine line between cutting too many trees and not cutting any because it doesn’t matter what we do, we get flak from one side or the other.”
He said some customers want Hydro to prune trees for them on their property, and others who want no pruning at all.
“You have to recognize you either want the lights on or you want the trees,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t have both.”