Vancouver Island has more trees per kilometre of utility power line than any place else in North America and this can translate into power outages.
The average Campbell River resident experienced 1.86 power outages, averaging 2.55 hours in 2020. This seems high when compared to cities like Victoria and Nanaimo, but is better than Duncan or Port Hardy.
Cortes Island does not appear in the graph, but a Squirrel Cove resident recorded 6 outages lasting between 2 and 12 hours (each) in her calendar. While the numbers are rounded off, this suggests Cortes is one of the worst areas in the Vancouver Island area for outages.
Replacing wooden poles
The average lifespan of a wooden power pole is 40 to 50 years, and BC Hydro is currently replacing more than 8,000 poles across BC.
As electricity reached Cortes Island in the early 1970s, many of the poles are presumably near their end of use.
Where the power comes from
Vancouver Island produces about 40% of its electricity. The remainder is supplied by two transmission submarine cable systems crossing the Strait of Georgia. The older of the two systems, built in the 1980s, crosses from the Sunshine Coast, over Texada Island and emerges at Qualicum Bay. A second cable, laid in 2008, connects Tsawwassen and Duncan.
Transmission cables cross from Campbell River to Quadra Island, but Cortes’ electricity comes from a different direction. A submarine cable connects the Cortes Island electric grid to the Malaspina peninsula.
Links of interest:
- (SRD) Reliability performance from Vancouver Island– Sunshine Coast Community Relations 2020 Annual Report
- (Cortes Currents) The 1960s & 70s: A time of transition
- (Cortes Currents) articles about the grid
Top photo credit: Power lines in Squirrel Cove – Roy L Hales photo
This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative.