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Port Alice welcomes upgrades to improve power reliability

Mayor Kevin Cameron says he has surge protectors on all his electronics due to the brownouts that occasionally afflict the village
Port Alice is a village of 739 on the northwest end of Vancouver Island.

sa国际传媒 Hydro’s push to increase electricity reliability on the North Island is much needed, says Port Alice Mayor Kevin Cameron, who has surge protectors on all his electronics due to the brownouts that occasionally afflict the village.

“I can’t afford to blow up another TV or computer screen,” Cameron said. “That dirty power on the wavelength’s going to wreck your TV.”

While good surge protectors cost upwards of $150, he recommends them to anyone living in an area prone to power outages. “Port Hardy, Port McNeill, any place where there’s power interruptions — it’s quite frequent that these things happens.”

sa国际传媒 Hydro has announced that Port Alice, a village of 739 located off Neroutsos Inlet, is among the North Island communities that will see power upgrades as part of a $3.2-billion infrastructure spend on Vancouver Island in the next decade.

Aside from funding for a new substation in Langford to ­provide power for up to 70,000 more homes on the West Shore, the upgrade plan includes reconfiguring the Port Alice substation, which once existed primarily to power the now-defunct Nuecel Pulp Mill, which stopped operating in 2015.

The substation will be reconfigured from transmission voltage to a distribution-voltage output to increase power reliability for users, said sa国际传媒 Hydro spokesperson Stephen Watson.

Transmission-configured substations send out electricity at much higher voltages, usually above 110 kilovolts, and are intended to carry power over long distances.

Vegetation along power lines will also be cut back and existing lines upgraded.

“The big thing that causes outages out there is there’s trees on the lines during a storm,” said sa国际传媒 Hydro CEO Chris O’Riley. “If there’s only one line into a community, you have to work extra hard to make sure that the line is reliable.”

All municipalities north of Campbell River on the Island are single-line communities, he said.

Port Alice loses power three to four times a year on average, though some of those are planned outages, he said.

O’Riley said the improvements in Port Alice are part of a $36-billion province-wide infrastructure upgrade the Crown utility is undertaking in the next decade.

sa国际传媒 Hydro is spending more than double on capital upgrades compared to the previous decade, he said.

“It’s quite a significant scaling up,” he said. “It’s a recognition that the system we had isn’t good enough to meet the needs of the future.”

Port Alice has seen other provincial investments in recent months.

In April, the province announced $75,000 in funding for the village to explore new commercial options for its ice rink, which has been shuttered since 2018.

Nearby Quatsino First Nation was given $500,000 to help pay for the costs of responding to the decommissioning and receivership of the Nuecel Pulp Mill.

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