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Power outages experienced across ATCO service territory due to ice build-up

A power outage that affected a large portion of St. Paul on Wednesday is being attributed to ice buildup, according to ATCO.

LAKELAND - A power outage that affected a large portion of St. Paul on Wednesday is being attributed to ice buildup, according to ATCO, and crews had to shut off power to a large area to safely conduct necessary repair work. 

ATCO confirmed power had been restored at 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 for many customers, but there were continued outages throughout St. Paul and the surrounding area due to additional ice buildup. ATCO said crews were working to restore power for customers as quickly as possible. 

Aaron Finkbiner, Director, Operations, of ATCO Electricity Division explained that ATCO is seeing power outages due to hoarfrost and ice across many of its service territories, and until the weather changes, "we are going to continue to be impacted by them.”  

He explained that while ATCO’s electricity system has “high reliability,” Mother Nature can still influence that reliability. 

Finkbiner explained that when the weight of hoarfrost and ice accumulates on the surfaces of powerlines, it can lead to power outages when the power lines touch due to the wind. He reiterated that, “due to the hoarfrost, we’re seeing these instances across our service territory.” 

“Our crews are working as safely and efficiently as possible to repair, and in some cases, mitigate these by knocking the frost off the line,” he added.  

Finkbiner also said that there are many outages in the southern half of ATCO’s operating territory, which includes Drumheller, Stettler, Three Hills, Oyen, Hanna, Forestburg, Castor, and Consort, along with communities touching the Lakeland region, such as Vegreville, Vermillion, and Smoky Lake. 

“We’re reminding the public to be safe and stay at least 10 metres away from any downed power lines,” he said, adding that downed lines can be reported to 1-800-668-5506. 

According to information from ATCO, in cases of power outages, residents should keep freezers and refrigerators closed, and avoid using their gas stove or ovens to heat their home. Residents should also disconnect appliances and electronics to minimize risk and avoid damage to items from electrical surges. 

Other tips from ATCO include having alternate plans for refrigerating medicines or using “power-dependent medical devices,” preserving heat wherever possible, closing blinds and drapes and avoiding opening doors that might allow heat to escape. 

ATCO also recommends only using home generators outdoors and keeping them away from windows. If the generator is connected “to your electrical panel, ensure you use a rated transfer device to prevent back feed into the power system,” according to ATCO.