Kincardine power outage due to faulty equipment, says Westario

Some residents left in the dark for two days

By Barb McKay


Kincardine residents and businesses were left without answers last week after two days of rolling blackouts and brownouts throughout the town.



The Westario substation on Hunter Street was a busy spot Friday and Saturday as workers attempted find the root of a power outage in Kincardine. Nearly 1,500 homes were left without power. (Josh Howald photo)




The initial outages, effecting 1,200 Westario customers, originated with a problem at the Westario substation at the corner of Hunter and Russell Streets.


Late Monday afternoon, Westario issued a press release explaining that the outages were the result of faulty equipment.


“Remediation efforts were immediately undertaken and power to our customers was restored over the next 48 hours, with all power being fully restored by late Friday, April 5,” Westario president Lisa Milne said in the release. “We wish to recognize those customers that took conservation measures and minimized their consumption during that time, as this alleviated the strain on our distribution system during restoration.

“Westario Power would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers for their patience and understanding.”


The Kincardine Fire Department was kept busy in the latter part of last week responding to calls from residents about smoke and sparks on hydro lines. On Wednesday, at 8 p.m., firefighters were called to the Kincardine Legion after a heating ventilation unit on the roof overheated and created smoke in the Legion hall. On Thursday at about 7:50 a.m., firefighters arrived at the substation at Russell and Hunter streets after residents reported seeing flames. Fire chief Kent Padfield said when firefighters arrives, Westario workers were already on scene.


On Friday, just after 1 p.m. firefighters were called out to Kincardine Avenue following a call about a possible fire on a hydro pole and line near Park Street.


“When we arrived nothing was visible and Westario, again, was on scene when we got there,” Padfield said.

As a result of the calls, Padfield is urging residents to make sure that they have working smoke alarms on every storey of their homes.


While some residents had power restored by Thursday evening, many lost power again and others were left in the dark for two days without heat or ways preserve or cook food.


The power outages created confusion for Kincardine students. When buses dropped students off at Huron Heights Public School, St. Anthony’s School and Kincardine and District Secondary School on Thursday morning, the power was out. On its website, Westario reported that technicians were working to restore power and students were left at the schools. By 11 a.m. the area was still without hydro and First Student sent buses back to the schools to take students home. The schools notified parents that the children would be returning home early.


“We were on standby because we didn’t know what was going on,” said Della Spencer, First Student manager. “We waited to hear from the schools.”


The students waited on buses for no more than 15 minutes, waiting on final word on whether or not the schools would be closed for the day, she added.


On Friday, further outages led the Bluewater school board to close Elgin Market Public School for the day.

Businesses on Highway 21 were left without power for two days as Westario Power technicians worked to sort out the problem. Most, including Best Western Governor’s Inn and Sobeys secured back up generators and were able to open for business. Others, such as Kincardine Dentistry were closed Thursday and Friday.

Several other businesses, downtown and on the south end of Queen Street, experienced power outages.

Chris Napier, owner of Kincardine Sobeys, told The Independent on Friday that lights had begun to flicker overnight on Wednesday and power went out completely around 7:15 a.m. Thursday. A generator was brought in and had the store up and running at 3:30 p.m. It was fortunate, Napier said, that very little in the way of product was lost. The freezers in the back storage areas can keep food frozen solid for 12 hours and plastic film covered meat and vegetables to keep them cool and fresh. Only pre-made salads and sandwiches had to be tossed.


By Friday, Napier said frustration was setting in as the store remained without power and he was left with no definitely time frame for when power would be restored.


“We’re getting nothing from Westario,” he said. “Their website says ‘indefinite.’”


The challenge, he noted, was that restoration times kept changing. Had he known the restoration time would be later than stated by Westario, he would have called for the generator sooner and could have opened the store to customers sooner.


“We’re just happy we have a generator and can continue to serve customers,” he said.


In related news, the Padfield reported that the Tiverton Fire Department was called out to Bruce Road 15 near Glammis during the noon hour on Sunday for downed power lines. Firefighters remained on scene until Hydro One arrived.