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Freezing rain responsible for widespread power outages Monday (update)

Nova Scotia Power's Matt Drover says ice built up on the the high voltage transmission line that connects Nova Scotia to New Brunswick
Nova Scotia Power's outage map is showing some 27,000 customers are in the dark on Jan. 16, 2023

A prolonged period of freezing rain in northern Nova Scotia is responsible for widespread power outages in Halifax and other parts of the province Monday morning.

Over 50,000 customers lost their electricity at around 5:30 a.m., nearly 30,000 of them were in the Halifax and Dartmouth areas.

Nova Scotia Power's senior director of transmission and distribution operations told CityNews Halifax that Cumberland and Colchester counties saw a lot of ice buildup, including on the high voltage transmission line that connects Nova Scotia to New Brunswick.

Matt Drover added, with the exception of the Maritime Link to Newfoundland, that transmission line is our only connection to the outside electrical grid.

"When we lost that tie to New Brunswick, we also did not have the Maritime Link in service, so we were disconnected from the rest of the grid," he explained.

"That disconnection created an unstable environment and we had to reduce the amount of customer load on our system."

He said in events like these where the utility need to reduce demand as quickly as possible, it has a detailed procedure in place to determine who gets cut off.

"We focus on the areas that have the most customers, and those are the ones that are targeted first. And they're geographically distributed, so they're not all just in one location."

Once the ice was removed the line was able to be restored.

Drover said these lines are inspected on a regular basis and described the conditions that caused the outage as "very uncommon."

"An ice build up of this magnitude is not something we often see," he stated. "It was just a prolonged period of time yesterday with that freezing rain, and the area that it occurred, that led to this."

"This is another example of the more severe storm events we're experiencing in this province," he added. "Rest assured, we're doing everything at Nova Scotia Power we can to reduce the likelihood of this happening again."

Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana and lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the editor for CityNews Halifax.
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