Why and how we plan outages
Why we plan power outages
We must perform work on the electrical system to maintain its safe and efficient operation. To ensure the safety of work crews and the public, some of this work can only be done with the power lines de-energized, which usually means an outage for some customers.
We plan outages to perform work that either can't be done at all or can’t be done safely when the equipment is energized.
By planning the outage and doing the necessary work, our crews can prevent a potential unplanned emergency outage in the future, where a part of the system unexpectedly fails or malfunctions.
How we choose outage dates and times
We consider various factors when finalizing a date:
- Safety: public and worker safety is always our primary concern. We need to make sure the work is done in the safest environment possible.
- Weather: some work can’t be done when it is raining, other work can be done under all weather conditions. This is why outages can be sometimes cancelled at the last minute.
- Schools: if an outage may affect a school, work to ensure that it falls on a day when school is not in session.
- Community events: if there is a community event or celebration scheduled, we'll try to find another day.
- Traffic management: some work may cause disruptions to traffic. We need to work with municipal officials to ensure our work fits into their traffic management plans.
- Availability of experts: some of the work we must do is very specialized and can only be performed by crews with unique skills and equipment. If this is the case, we must schedule work around their availability.
Frequently asked questions for outages affecting businesses
Planned outages are outages that we typically schedule in advance so that we can work safely on our system. They typically occur for emergency repairs, system upgrades, maintenance, new connections and other infrastructure-related work such as pole renewals and voltage conversions.
Planned outages prevent unexpected system failures that could cause unplanned emergency outages that are often longer and more disruptive.
Because we usually schedule these outages in advance, we can provide our customers advance notice of the impacts so that they can prepare their business to be without power.
Your site is along the power line or specific part of the grid that's affected with the specific work we're taking this outage to complete.
Some of the work we do can only be completed with the power lines de-energized. This ensures safety for everyone.
The safety of our crews and the public are BC Hydro's top priority.
Whenever we can, the planned outage team start weeks in advance to obtain feedback from commercial customers, municipal offices and community offices such as Business Improvement Associations and local boards on possible dates and times for the necessary outage.
Safety for the public and our crews, weather, traffic control, availability of specialized crews and equipment, community events, and the impact to critical sites such as schools and hospitals are all taken into consideration when we select a date.
Most of the work must be performed during daylight hours in order to keep our crews and the public safe.
Most planned outages occur M-F, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
We may need to reschedule an outage if there is heavy rain, adverse weather, safety concerns, or if crews are required to respond to emergencies.
BC Hydro and external crews have labour guidelines and restrictions that can limit the length of working hours in a day or week which may also help determine outage timing.
We also need to ensure we have crews available to respond to emergencies when they occur.
Noise bylaws in residential areas restrict weekend work as our crews use heavy machinery and bright lights to perform work safely.
Moving work to the weekend incurs more cost to BC Hydro and can result in higher costs to all our customers. For work that's in mixed residential-commercial neighbourhoods, weekend work can also be more disruptive for both residents and some businesses (such as hospitality).
Cancellations can occur due to adverse weather, system events and crew constraints if emergencies occur.
We work to keep the scheduled date, duration, and start/end times of a planned outage in place.
When we're notified of a cancellation prior to the start time we will send an auto-dialer (phone message), email and cancel the outage in our Outage Reporting System (ORS). You won't receive updated notification by mail.
You can check the status of the outage at bchydro.com/outages anytime. Planned outages appear on our website two weeks prior to the scheduled date.