Jasper power outage enters day three
Half of Jasper residents were still without power Wednesday noon, more than 50 hours after a wildfire in Jasper National Park burned 18 utility poles that serve the mountain town. Just after 6 p.m. that evening, the whole town was without power again.
In an 11 a.m. update, ATCO regional manager Amanda Mattern said ‘technical difficulties’ had disrupted the company’s plan to provide power to all residents by Tuesday evening. .
“Switching generators in a utility system is very complex and we have anticipated these kinds of challenges. To safely transfer power, small loads of electricity are added to the system and must be stabilized before proceeding. when the next load is added,” she explained.
“Protecting and controlling the integration of generator power into the system is extremely difficult and the safety of the community and our people continues to be our first priority.”
By midday Wednesday, ATCO expected to revitalize the other half of the city – about 2,500 residents – by evening, as long as there were no further problems. However, the company tweeted around 6 p.m. that Jasper was experiencing a citywide outage and there was no estimate of when power would be restored.
The latest assessment puts the fire that destroyed the Jasper transmission line at around 5,500 hectares, thanks to cooler temperatures and small amounts of rain, according to a Parks Canada official.
Fire crews have maximized what they expect will be a short respite in hot weather by securing fire lines and laying down hoses and sprinklers, including a high-volume system along the fireguard of the community in Jasper.
“This is not a reflection of risk to the community, but a preventative and precautionary measure on our part to ensure the safety and security of Jasperites and businesses in the community,” said Katie Ellsworth, Management Officer of fires at Parks Canada, said.
On Wednesday, firefighters were continuing that preparation and helping ATCO determine the extent of damage to the Jasper power line.
As of Wednesday, ATCO determined that 18 utility poles had been damaged by the Chetamon Wildfire.
Mattern couldn’t talk about a plan to rebuild the line until a full assessment is complete, but she said Jasper would stay on the generators throughout the process, which would take several weeks.
“We are weeks – not days – away from rebuilding this transmission infrastructure,” she said.
She and the mayor reiterated a call to residents to limit electricity consumption as much as possible.
“Now is not the time to visit Jasper. We will not and cannot welcome visitors to Jasper until we are connected to the main power grid,” Mayor Richard Ireland said.
The town and surrounding communities are still considered secure from the fire about 15 kilometers north of Jasper.