Outages from B.C. storms and extreme weather nearly tripled in last five years, BC Hydro report


WATCH: More than a million customers lost power last year as BC Hydro responded to three times as many storms as it did a few years ago. BC Hydro says storms are more severe and scientists say climate change means you can expect the lights to go out more often in the years ahead. April Lawrence reports.

A report by BC Hydro says power outages from severe weather events has surged in the last five years.

The Crown corporation says storms and extreme weather caused 265 per cent more power outages in 2017 than in 2013.

BC Hydro says climate change has led to more storm and extreme weather events, including record-breaking wildfire seasons and a severe ice storm in the Fraser Valley last December, contributing to more damage to its electrical system and outages for customers.

The report, titled “The impact B.C.’s wild weather is having on British Columbians and their power”, says 1.18 million BC Hydro customers saw power knocked out in 2017 by major storm events, compared to 323,000 in 2013.

BC Hydro says the province has three times more trees per kilometre of line than anywhere else in North America, and falling trees and branches are the leading cause of outages.

BC Hydro saw a 27 per cent increase in tree-related outages last year, with a 16 per cent jump on Vancouver Island, compared to the five-year average.

British Columbians are also seeing a change in storm events, according to a recent BC Hydro survey that reports more than 75 per cent of customers say storms are getting worse and 20 per cent say neighbourhood outages are more common in recent years.

Although outages are more frequent, BC Hydro says customers are not waiting longer for power to be restored.

BC Hydro says about 95 per cent of customers have their lights back on within 24 hours during extreme weather events and power restored within four hours has increased by nine per cent over that time.

The utility credits those numbers to its smart meter network along with new technology and processes like enhanced prediction logic using algorithms to confirm an outage and mark its location on a map and new mobile dispatch tools.

BC Hydro encourages residents to be prepared for power outages by having a well-stocked emergency kit that includes a flashlight, extra batteries, a first aid kit and non-perishable food and water.


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