Schools stay closed as electricity system recovers

James
James McLeod
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‘Would I have done things differently? Absolutely not’, Dunderale says

Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks to the media Tuesday afternoon, flanked by Nalcor CEO Ed Martin (left) and Newfoundland Power CEO Earl Ludlow.  
— Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

Schools will stay closed for another day, along with Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic, as the province tries to get back on its feet from a nearly week of electricity disruptions and unpredictable weather.

On Tuesday afternoon, Newfoundland Power CEO Earl Ludlow said only 50 customers were without electricity in the province, and of those, 20 were cabins.

But the word from Ludlow, Dunderdale and other top officials was that the need to conserve electricity remains in place.

“I’m happy to report that the situation continues to improve almost on an hourly basis,” Dunderdale told reporters. “We still need to be vigilant. We still need to conserve. You know, it should be something that we’re mindful of every day, whether we’re having a circumstance like this or not.”

The province will likely announce around midday today whether schools will reopen on Thursday.

Only six small schools in communities powered by diesel will open tomorrow — in St. Brendan’s, McCallum, Little Bay Islands, Ramea, Grey River and Francois.

Jackman said that they’re taking it slow, and custodial staff are in the buildings, warming them up and getting them ready for students to return, but officials are being cautious.

“The last thing we would want to do is bring a group of students in tomorrow and all of a sudden we’ve got a situation where we’ve got to send them home. That would create more chaos for these parents,” he said.

Nalcor boss Ed Martin said they’re still trying to figure out what exactly went wrong on Sunday night in the Holyrood switchyard outside the power plant, which shut down the plant and plunged tens of thousand of people into the dark.

“We have fresh teams on the ground and fresh experts, and we’re working through that,” he said.

“We brought in a bigger bucket truck this morning. We have people higher, looking down and testing and we’re continuing to test the breaker system.”

Martin expressed regret for how things have gone since Thursday, when Nalcor couldn’t meet electricity demand and utility operators had to start deliberately cutting off power to neighbourhoods to manage the grid.

“I’ve heard so many stories over the last few days from many, many places that it’s been very difficult,” he said.

“I want to let folks know that we understand that, we recognize it, and every minute we’re working, we have that in the back of our minds.”

Dunderdale, for her part, batted back at consistent criticism over her handling of the situation from opposition politicians and members of the public.

She said she’s convinced the right decisions have been made, and the government has minimized the effects of the ongoing problems as much as possible.

“Would I have done things differently? Absolutely not,” she said.

“Even the fact that we were able to rotate power prevented thousands of people from being without power completely, so I’m really glad that we were able to do that.”

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

 

 

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic, Newfoundland Power

Geographic location: Ramea, Grey River, Holyrood

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Recent comments

  • Clueless in St. John's
    January 08, 2014 - 11:04

    One more outage of a 6hr+ duration on the Avalon in these temps - sorry but Ms. Prem will have to clear her desk for the pressure will be greater than the burst pipes around town. Zero confidence reigns regarding stability of the power grid here island wide.

  • The Dung That She Says
    January 08, 2014 - 10:24

    The system is again under strain due to today's colder temperatures. Since this is Winter we can expect cold days. Hydro is meeting this morning to consider planned rolling outages again. Dunderdale says she is happy things are improving?!

  • IAMtheJIB
    January 08, 2014 - 08:55

    " ‘Would I have done things differently? Absolutely not’, Dunderale says " That is exactly the reason why you and your entire party will be lucky to garner 2% of the vote in the next election. 2015 will be a truly historic election year with numbers like we have never seen in the past.

  • Steve Pick
    January 08, 2014 - 08:36

    Even after people have died because of the power outage, she wouldn't have done anything differently? Unbelievable.

  • Steve
    January 08, 2014 - 07:08

    Resign now. That is all.

    • Dolf
      January 08, 2014 - 09:03

      Don't kid me Steve. Resign when the goose lays such golden eggs? Would you quit a job that pays $650,000.00 even though you're incompetent?