Birds blamed for power outage

Birds nesting on power lines caused the latest electrical outage in the city early Tuesday morning in a few neighbourhoods.

Birds nesting on power lines caused the latest electrical outage in the city early Tuesday morning in a few neighbourhoods.

Power to Clearview Ridge and Timberland was knocked out from about 4 to 5 a.m.

“We were able to trace it back to a nest issue on one of our power lines in the Three Mile Bend area. Down near the river, osprey is a fairly common thing,” said Jim Jorgensen, Electricity, Light and Power Department manager for the city, on Wednesday.

He said outages haven’t been out of the ordinary except for the rolling blackout ordered by Alberta Electric System Operator that impacted parts of Red Deer on July 9.

“There’s periods of time when it seems like we’re experiencing a lot of outages. If we look big picture, Red Deer maintains a very reliable system.”

He said dedication of city staff is a big reason for the dependable service.

But there can always be problems in nesting season. If birds aren’t building nests in pole crossarms, they have been known to drop nesting material across parallel wires.

“We’re always looking at some sort of effective way from deterring them from nesting on our poles. Sometimes it’s very difficult. They are very clever and ingenious.”

Early in the morning of June 28, neighbourhoods in Anders and Sunnybrook lost power when crows interfered with equipment at an electrical substation.

City staff have tried putting up obstructions between wires to try and prevent nesting, but lines cover a lot of territory, he said.

Jorgensen said residents should always be prepared for an outage as part of their emergency preparedness, for example if they require medical equipment.

“I think it’s quite important if folks have specific requirements as far as power concerns, they need to assess their own need and demand and make arrangements because an outage can happen just out of the blue. A bird. A storm. A lightning strike. A vehicle hitting a power pole.”

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