Schools reopening, Holyrood running, electricity crunch subsiding
Schools will reopen today, and unless something goes terribly wrong, the rolling blackouts are over.
Nalcor president and CEO Ed Martin (left) speaks to the media during a Wednesday afternoon briefing as Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Newfounland Power CEO and president Earl Ludlow look on. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
Nalcor CEO Ed Martin was cautious in his language at a late-afternoon media briefing Wednesday, but he said that pending all the usual checks and reports, it seems like the province is out of the woods when it comes to the ongoing electricity problems.
“I’m confident we’re going to return to full system stability tonight overnight,” Martin told reporters.
Even as he spoke, pockets of Newfoundland were under rolling blackouts, seven days after electrical utilities had to start rationing electricity because of cold weather and broken power plants.
Martin said the Holyrood power plant is back online, with two units operating well and a third unit operating at 35 per cent capacity. That third unit will likely be up to full capacity later this month after workers install a fan motor.
Newfoundland Power CEO Earl Ludlow once again urged people to be careful, and conserve electricity where possible.
“Let’s not go out and turn everything on all of a sudden,” he said. “Conserve, conserve, conserve has been my line for a week, and we’ve got to keep it going.”
With schools reopening and the blackouts ending, attention turned to the fallout from the whole mess.
The Public Utilities Board (PUB) called Nalcor and Newfoundland Power representatives to a closed-door meeting Wednesday afternoon to start investigating what happened.
“The meeting was very factual, more or less giving them the detailed information and sequence of events and getting them up to speed on everything that happened,” he said. “It was an exchange of data, the first step of the process.”
Premier Kathy Dunderdale said she doesn’t know what the investigation will entail, but that will be a discussion she’ll have this week.
“At the moment, we’re working through this piece to get the system up, fully functional and the people of the province secured, safe and having access to the energy they require,” she said. “We’ll have a sitdown (Thursday) and have a talk about what needs to be done. I have no issue at all with openness and accountability around this issue. We want to know what went wrong.”
In another sign that things were getting back to normal, Martin said Nalcor now has enough power to supply the Come By Chance refinery, one of the province’s biggest industrial power users. The refinery was shut down during the crisis due to electricity shortages.