Birds blamed for power outages

A recent rash of power outages throughout Red Deer can be attributed to feathered creatures finding out the hard way how dangerous power lines are.

A recent rash of power outages throughout Red Deer can be attributed to feathered creatures finding out the hard way how dangerous power lines are.

Since Thursday there have been eight separate power outages in the city. Jim Jorgensen, City of Red Deer Electric Light and Power manager, said six of them can be attributed to birds coming into contact with an exposed power line.

Among areas affected over the past few days are Eastview, Mountview, Morrisroe, downtown, at the Collicutt Centre, Burnt Lake Industrial Park and Rosedale.

The outage at the Collicutt Centre was caused by a lawnmower hit a transformer and the Burnt Lake Industrial Park was caused by a construction crew that dug up a line that then needed repair.

In all of the outages over the past week, no one was hurt “other than birds.”

“Birds get into the exposed parts of overhead lines, whether their contacting lines or other pieces of equipment and causing issues,” said Jorgensen.

“This is bird season, lots of birds and we have about 300 km of overhead line throughout the city. Generally the birds don’t fare so well with that.”

He said Thursday, Friday and Sunday were particularly unfortunate days for birds and electricity customers.

When a bird does come into contact with exposed power lines, Jorgensen said city ELP crews will put insulating cover up over the exposed line. This protects the line and prevents future incidents at that location.

“It’s a continually moving issue,” Jorgensen.

“The birds find their way into stuff. We’ll cover up and move on and cover up again and every year we have a certain amount of bird and power line interactions.”

Jorgensen said ELP relies on people calling them in the event of outages. To report incidents call ELP at 403-342-8274 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

The after hours phone number is 403-342-5700.

A planned outage is scheduled for July 9 just south of the hospital and will affect eight different addresses in the area.

Residents at 5207 39th St., 3720 52nd Ave., 3718 52nd Ave., 3710 52nd Ave., 3620 52nd Ave., 3610 52nd Ave., 5121 37th St. and 5110 36th St. will be without power from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The service interruption is necessary for crews to make improvements to the electrical system.

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