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Hydro cancels weekend power outage

Power will be cut to 480 customers in Pemberton Meadows on Oct. 6 and 7



BC Hydro has cancelled a planned power outage in Pemberton for this Sunday in light of staunch community opposition.

Arlene Shwetz, manager of community relations for the power authority, told Pique in an e-mail on Wednesday evening that the planned outage for Sept. 26 has been put off to allow customers more time to prepare for it. She added that maintenance at a substation needs to be done and it will be rescheduled.

The development comes after Pemberton council and Squamish-Lillooet Regional District directors rose up in frustration at BC Hydro's plan to cut electricity to the community between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. with what they saw as very little notice.

The Village of Pemberton was notified of the outage on Sept. 9 through an e-mail to Mayor Jordan Sturdy, informing him that BC Hydro had to perform repairs on two 30 kV insulators at the Pemberton substation. Work also had to be done on some switches, maintenance that was planned for last year but postponed when an employee received an electric shock.

The outage was expected to hit 2,900 customers, cutting power to anyone in the Pemberton Valley and Mount Currie, right up to D'Arcy.

The work is cancelled for now but Shwetz said in an interview on Thursday that it's likely to be rescheduled for another day.

"I think the bottom line is we heard loud and clear from businesses and the public that they didn't get enough notice about the outage," she said. "So we've cancelled it for Sunday. There will be a short outage from 6 a.m. until 6:15 a.m. in the morning.

"It will be rescheduled for some time, but that hasn't been determined when that will be. We will ensure the public and businesses get lots of notice for the next planned outage that would be replacing this one."

The cancellation came as good news for Paul Vacirca, president of the Pemberton and District Chamber of Commerce. He said in an interview it was "amazing" to learn that BC Hydro had heard Pemberton's concerns.

"It's exactly the response that we wanted from BC Hydro in terms of listening to our concerns and conducting proper consultation and doing it the right way," he said. "The Chamber of Commerce, the SLRD and the VOP, it was a great group effort."

Vacirca told Pemberton council on Tuesday that businesses stood to lose $175,000 from Sunday's planned power outage. Vacirca didn't know when the power outage would be rescheduled but believes it could be delayed until the spring.

"It takes about 30 to 45 days to put something like this in play," Vacirca said. "So with the backdrop of winter and cold weather, they may have been delayed now until the spring. There's a likelihood of it happening this fall, but 75/25 it'll happen in the spring."

Though Pemberton has averted a power outage this Sunday, it still has to contend with two separate outages, on Oct. 6 and 7. Power needs to be cut on those dates in order for BC Hydro to install some polls and install some switch gear on the power lines. Those are expected to last from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Vacirca believes those outages will be delayed as well. Shwetz doesn't.

"Those are still going ahead," she said