Outages required as poles are replaced: Is your business ready?

Image of power line technicians working from bucket truck
Recognizing that an eight-hour power outage can have significant impacts to B.C. businesses, BC Hydro tries to provide at least 10 days notice to larger businesses, and a minimum five days notice to smaller commercial enterprises.

Maintenance outages required as we replace about 900,000 wooden poles

As part of a 10 year plan announced last fall, BC Hydro is investing $1.7 billion per year in infrastructure investments across the province. Everything from dams to wires is being assessed and updated where necessary. It will add up to better power reliability and an improved power system.

Included is a renewal strategy for about 900,000 wooden poles that support electricity distribution province-wide.

Up to 12,000 wooden poles must be replaced per year for the next five years, as well as end-of-life underground cabling, pad mounts, overhead transformers, and other components of your local power network.

The investment plan will ensure B.C. has reliable power and can meet future demand for years to come. It also means the number of maintenance power outages, required to allow crews to accomplish their work safely, will rise.

"We anticipate 5,000 to 6,000 outages provincially," says Raj Sharma, manager of customer service operations. "A majority of pole replacements will be handled by line contractors on behalf of BC Hydro, and they will make every effort to conduct these pole replacements by minimizing customer impacts. However, maintenance outages will be necessary. The number that will affect large commercial customers will be in the range of 50-75 outages a month."

Plan ahead for eight-hour outages

Sharma says crews accomplish as much infrastructure work as possible with the power on, but commercial customers should be ready for outages of at least eight hours if they're on a line that requires a pole replacement.

Outages take place Mondays through Fridays, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and may be rescheduled if there is heavy rain, bad weather, safety concerns or if crews are required to respond to emergency work.

Large commercial customers are given a minimum of 10-day notice of a maintenance outage, although emergency outages are sometimes necessary with much shorter notice periods. Smaller commercial customers and residential customers will receive a five-day notice of maintenance outages

Planning for a possible outage can help reduce its impact on your business. Learn more about preparing for outages at your business.

Register for ONUS to get real-time information about unplanned outages

Business customers can also track unplanned outages using ONUS, BC Hydro's automated system that provides real-time outage information.

The system can send information about outages directly to a mobile device or through email. It's customizable — register as many sites as you need, and provide the appropriate contact person for each site. ONUS tells you what site is affected, how long repair work is expected to take, and when service is restored.

To learn more about maintenance outages, and the ONUS system for unplanned outages, contact your Key Account Manager. All other business customers can email to learn more about ONUS.