British Columbians should be prepared for a higher chance of power outages this winter, following months of droughts and wildfires.
BC Hydro says the province’s extremely dry summer and historic wildfire season have left many trees and vegetation vulnerable to falling or damaging power poles and lines.
“Long, dry stretches during the summer put local vegetation under stress,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Susie Rieder in a release Friday.
“Trees weakened by drought and associated disease can be more susceptible to wind, and many of these trees still have leaves late in the season making them increasingly susceptible to wind and adding weight from rain or snow,” she said.
BC Hydro adds that it has already had its hands full making repairs after the devastating wildfires seen this year, replacing more than 1,400 power poles that were destroyed across almost 90 kilometres of B.C.’s Interior.
It has also tried to step up its vegetation management to help protect infrastructure from weather-related damage, including performing regular maintenance and inspecting trees and tall vegetation near BC Hydro assets.
“Trees and adverse weather are the single biggest cause for power outages in B.C. – more than half of all power outages are caused by trees and bad weather,” said BC Hydro.
Besides affecting tree health, the province’s recent drought is also causing some concerns for hydroelectric dams.
BC Hydro says that some of its larger electric plants on the mainland are still managing lower-than-normal reservoir water levels for this time of year, requiring a delicate balance between maintaining water levels and generating power.
BC Hydro is encouraging residents to be prepared in case there is a power outage in their neighbourhood.
British Columbians are asked to have an emergency kit, complete with food and water for at least 72 hours – as well as a first aid kit, batteries, flashlight and power bank for phones.
Residents should also brush up on where to check for power outages in their communities, and understand who to call if they see damaged electrical equipment, such as a downed or damaged power lines.