Farmers coping with power outages

Hundreds of rural customers lost power when windstorm ripped through Central Alberta on Wednesday

Penhold-area farmers are frustrated that they have been without power since Wednesday’s wind storm.

Penny Archibald, who farms with husband Allan just south of Penhold, said on Friday morning they had been without power since 4:20 p.m. on Wednesday and she’s not happy.

In modern farming operations losing power is more than an inconvenience. Automated watering systems for her 50 cattle and 20 horses don’t work, meaning she’s got to haul water in from a neighbour.

“But look at the guy who’s got a few hundred head. He’s really sweating. That’s when you have to hire a big water truck to come in and it’s just not that easy,” said Archibald.

At home, there are no lights, no heat, toilets can’t flush and deep freezers are thawing out.

Archibald said power companies were only too happy to see farmers automate and increase their power usage.

“We all have and now we’re all s**t out of luck,” she said.

“This is just not right.”

Equs supplies power to her farm and many others in the area.

Archibald blames deregulation for many of the issues responding to problems.

“Now, Equs has to work with Fortis because one does one thing and one does another. It’s a screwed up mess.

“I hate to say it, but the Conservatives sure messed up on that one.”

Wednesday’s storm created havoc in her area, she said. The tarp was shredded covering a 12-by-23-metre equipment shed on her property. A neighbour’s grain bin was blown nearly a kilometre.

Kay Daines, who has seven horses and 50 cows and calves on her farm, just southeast of Penhold said she has been watering animals from rain barrels and moving them to different pastures to get by until power returns.

Daines said she could see power crews at work on Friday morning just east of her property. Power was restored shortly after 1 p.m.

“I’m sure their job has been more than overwhelming,” she said. “It’s kind of been a tough storm on everybody.”

Her biggest frustration has been the lack of information.

“Unfortunately, they haven’t left people too informed so we can make plans to do something.”

Equs spokesman Scott Sakatch said crews were out before the storm had even ended to begin the huge job of restoring power to hundreds of customers.

On Wednesday alone, Equs fielded more than 900 calls from customers. About 60 per cent of customers in its Central area — from Hoadley in the north to Calgary and Sylvan Lake east to Joffre — were without power.

The ferocity of the storm tipped power poles to a 45-degree angle and lines were broken by the wind alone or trees falling across them.

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