5 Questions with Aron McInnes about Winter Outages

December 17, 2018

Aron McInnes

Winter is beautiful. But certain winter weather can damage power lines, poles and cause outages. We sat down with Aron McInnes, Operating Manager for the Prince Albert-Tisdale area, to learn how winter conditions can impact you.

  1. We all know the damage a summer storm can bring, but what about winter weather conditions?

    Winter weather like frost, ice and snow can look peaceful. But, it can also be destructive. It makes overhead power lines heavy. This can weigh down and break power poles and cross arms.

    Wind is another concern.

    Strong wind blows across a line making it lift – like an airplane wing. That causes the line to bounce or gallop. Plus, the extra weight of ice on the lines creates intense shaking. Causing damage like broken lines and cross arms.

  2. Yikes, that’s a lot of damage. How long does it take restore power in these cases?

    Depending on the damage it can take anywhere from hours to days to restore power.

    First, crews need to find the damage. Then, make fixes. For this we need:

    • a larger crew of power line technicians
    • replacement parts
    • equipment

    The worst-case scenario is that we've got several poles and lines damaged at the same time. Meaning we need to act like an emergency room. We focus on the worst lines, making short-term fixes. Our goal's to try and restore power to the as many customers as safely and quickly as we can.

  3. Once the power restored is the work all done?

    No. Once the power's back on, the real work begins. That's when we start making long-term repairs. This means you may have more outages. Because for us to safely do the work we need we may have to turn the power off. We do our best to avoid outages when making repairs.

  4. Would burying power lines underground mean there’d be no more winter outages?

    No, it wouldn’t. The extreme cold weather that we have in Saskatchewan can cause the ground to freeze. This causes the frozen ground to crack. And when it does, so do our underground power lines.

    Damage like this takes a long time to fix. Because we can't see where the line's broken we need to bring in special equipment. Once we find where it's broken then we can start digging through the frozen ground to repair it.

  5. If I see an icy or snowy power line on the ground, could it still have electricity running through it?

    Yes, a downed lined could still be live even if it’s covered in frost, snow or ice.

    Make sure you stay at least 10 meters (30 feet) away from a downed power line and call 310-2220 or 911 to report the line. Never attempt to pick up or move the power line yourself.

Broken power pole and line Sagging power lines

SaskPower crew truck and downed lines Power lines with frost on line

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