Six power outages in one day. One was planned while the rest weren’t.

Members of various communities in Behchokǫ̀ and Yellowknife on Sunday, Sept. 11 were greeted to a massive black out which would take most the day to get resolved.

The Northwest Territories Power Corporation (NTPC) provided several updates throughout the day and would eventually have almost all power restored at just after 6:40 p.m.

“Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀: Power has been restored in Yellowknife and in Edzo,” reads the notice. “Power will be restored in Rae once an operator arrives to bring the local generator online.”

The breakdown

As mentioned earlier, there were up to six power outages that took place this past Sunday, with only one occurring as it was supposed too.

According to the Northland Utilities Twitter page, one outage in a small section of city (from 50th St to 51st St) was planned by the organization, who were performing work that required a power interruption for its crew to safely operate on the powerline.

“Power will be off on Sunday, Sept. 11 from 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.,” reads the notice.

However, this would, of course, go beyond that section of the city.

“Yellowknife full system outage [at] 11:37 a.m.,” reads the first of what would be several updates from the NTPC. “Restoration in progress.”

At 1:44 p.m., the NTPC would notify both communities that “efforts to restore stable power are being hampered by several factors.” Additional staff were called in to address the extended outage.

At this point, the power wouldn’t officially be brought back until around 2:20 p.m. There was a brief moment before the where the power would flicker to life, but initial outage would remain until the aforementioned time.

“Yellowknife/Behchokǫ̀: Power has been restored in both communities,” read the notice from NTPC. “NTPC will continue its investigation into the cause of the outage as well as the issues that delayed restoration. Thank you for your patience while we worked to safely restore power.”

Following this, the power would once again shut off at just after 4:30 p.m.

At 4:49 p.m., the NTPC would release the following update:

“Yellowknife/Behchokǫ̀: An outage is currently underway. NTPC staff are working to restore power as quickly as possible.”

After about two hours, the power would officially be fully restored in the communities of Yellowknife and Edzo, with Rae having to wait until later in the day before also having power return.

The reasoning

As for why the outages occurred, both Northland Utilities and NTPC both released updates on the subject.

At around 12:30 p.m., Northland Utilities released another tweet which was more directly related to the city-wide outage that had occurred.

“The City of Yellowknife is currently experiencing a city wide outage due to a loss of generation supply. Our crews are working safely to get power back on as quickly as possible, but there is no ETA for restoration at this time. Thank you for your patience [and] understanding.”

As well, NTPC also pointed towards ‘fallen vegetation’ as a contributor to the outage (this having occurred at the Snare Hydro system located on the Snare River about 140 km northwest).

“A line crew has cleared fallen vegetation from one section of power lines at Snare Hydro and is continuing to inspect other sections to ensure they are free of trees and branches,” reads the NTPC’s notice. “Staff are still working to identify why the switch over to diesel generation was delayed. More detailed information on the cause of the outages will be shared once the investigation is concluded. Thank you for your patience.”

The diesel generators mentioned above are in reference to those located at the Jackfish plant in Yellowknife.

However, following another NTPC update that came in at 8:40 p.m., ‘falling vegetation’ would instead be a ‘tree’.

“Yellowknife/Behchoko: Power has been fully restored with hydro. A tree was removed earlier this evening from a power line at Snare Hydro, which is believed responsible for the initial outage. Investigation of all of the factors that contributed to the extended outages this weekend will continue.”

The response

Both community’s response to the black out were a combination of questioning and reasonable frustration.

“Time to give us a reason so many failures today,” reads one comment. “Maybe if you informed the community, people would not be quite as frustrated.”

“And I couldn’t even read this [update] as the internet was spotty too,” reads another.

However, it wasn’t all negative as other folks show their thanks for the workers who worked to get things back in working order.

“Rave to all the Power Corp employees who gave up most of their weekend trying to restore power,” reads a comment. “Was it frustrating? Yes. However, I’m sure the employees fixing it didn’t take pleasure in ‘ruining’ your weekend. They’re doing the best with what they have.”

“NTPC staff- Thanks for all your hard work to figure this out! We appreciate the detailed updates,” another reads.

At this point in time (and at the time of writing), the NTPC’s investigation looks to be continuing on the matter.

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