Planned power outage short circuits business

Relocation of utility poles will force merchants to close for up to 12 hours

Around 42 B.C. Hydro customers in Sooke will lose power next week as five utility poles are relocated along Sooke Road.

The relocation efforts are scheduled to begin on Monday (Jan. 11) and carry on until Thursday (Jan. 14), and will cause power outages that may vary between two to 12 hours.

The work will be done between Church and Townsend roads.

The work will be at 6661 Sooke Rd. on Monday, with power expected to go out at 7 a.m. and forecasted to return before 7 p.m.

That notion proves difficult for Wayne Kneeshaw, store manager of Village Foods Market, who has no choice but to shut down everything for a day.

It wasn’t until two weeks ago that Kneeshaw found out about the poles.

“It’s not OK, because this is business interruption. A couple of hours is a couple of hours, but when you’re talking 7 to 7, there’s no use opening it that day for the last three hours,” Kneeshaw said, adding that it will take at least a day or so to prepare all meat and deli produce for cold storage, which, in a sealed container and a closed freezer without power, can last up to 36 hours without issue.

But there’s still no sure guarantee it will happen on Monday either, as the operation depends greatly on the weather the night before, said B.C. Hydro spokesperson Karla Louwers.

Hydro will give the affected businesses 24-hour notice if the weather turns ugly over the weekend, but even if the operation gets pushed back, the poles still need to be moved.

Louwers said the relocation comes due to recent construction and road widening along Sooke Road, and since the poles are dual-circuit, the amount of work required of relocating them is “fairly significant.”

Still, the power outage leaves everyone to their own devices, with no options whatsoever.

“B.C. Hydro cannot guarantee power, planned and unplanned outages happen,” Louwers said. “Customers who require power should have a plan to deal with power outages.”

It’s easier said than done.

For Kneeshaw to power Village Foods through the outage, he would have to haul in massive generators from Vancouver to the tune of $15,000 per day.

And that’s without hook-up fees and lost revenue for the entire day.

“It’s just not very cost-effective,” Kneeshaw said, adding that he will find out Saturday from B.C. Hydro on whether or not the pole replacement on Monday will go through, though he hopes it does.

“If it happens on Monday, it works out better. Let’s just get this over with.”

Not all businesses along the route will be affected though. Western Foods remains unaffected, said Jeff Stewart, the store’s manager.

Work on Jan. 11 is expected to start at 7 a.m. at 6661 Sooke Rd., then 6670 the following day, as well as 6610 on Jan. 14.

news@sookenewsmirror.com