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Holiday season power outages increasing drastically as storms surge: BC Hydro

Average of 300,000 people impacted by holiday outages each year, since 2017
A man uses a snowblower to clear snow from a sidewalk in Vancouver, on Sunday, December 18, 2022. BC Hydro says holiday-time storms are on the rise in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The number of British Columbians losing power as a result of a winter holiday-season storm is increasing tremendously, according to a BC Hydro report.

The electric utility company said from 2012 to 2016, an average of 45,000 people would lose power to a winter storm between mid-December and mid-January each year. In the most recent five years though, that number has skyrocketed to an annual average of over 300,000 people impacted.

“Holiday-season storms are increasing mainly because of climate change,” spokesperson Susie Rieder said in a news release.

While there have been major storms every year since 2017, BC Hydro said the one pushing up the five-year average is from Christmas 2018, when 750,000 customers lost power. This, the utility company said, was the worst storm its ever seen.

A recent survey further revealed close to 90 per cent of British Columbians have experienced at least one weather-related power outage in recent years. Almost half of respondents said the outages had occurred in the last two years.

Of those, 20 per cent said past outages impacted their holiday plans, but 60 per cent said they’d still like to see snow at Christmas even if it disrupts things.

BC Hydro said it’s doing its best to plan ahead for this year. It said it’s increased staff to be on standby, is upping vegetation management to reduce the risk of downed power lines and is increasing its stock of spare equipment and materials.

The company said British Columbians can prepare too. They’re urged to create an emergency kit and preparedness plan, use surge protectors to protect electronics and make a list of important local phone numbers.

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Black Press Media Staff

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