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Nova Scotia Power preparing for busy weekend as Hurricane Lee moves closer

By Joe Thomson Sep 15, 2023 | 11:50 AM

Hurricane Fiona damage in Nova Scotia, including power lines down across a street. Image: Chris Fogarty

Nova Scotia Power says it will be all hands on deck this weekend as they respond to power outages caused by hurricane Lee.

Matt Drover is the senior director of energy delivery with the utility company. He says that with the high winds Lee is bringing with it, it’s all but guaranteed that some Nova Scotians will lose power this weekend. Drover says it’s up to NS Power to be ready to respond and restore it as soon as possible.

“We’re opening our emergency operation center today at noon, which is the central location that we coordinate all of our storm restoration… and we have over 600 people in the field which is made up of powerline technicians, forestry workers and damage assessors to be on the ground as soon as those winds hit and ready to restore power as quickly and safely as possible,” said Drover.

During the peak of Hurricane Fiona last year, roughly 415,000 customers across Nova Scotia were without power, the biggest outage the NS Power has ever had to deal with. Drover says they learned a lot of lessons from Fiona and will be applying this weekend as Lee barrels down the coast.

“Bringing in crews a few days in advance, and positioning those crews throughout the province provides us the ability to restore power as quickly as possible. So, we’re really focused on doing that with this storm,” said Drover.

He also spoke about how communications will be a priority throughout the weekend. Much has been made about how people who lost internet and cellular service during Fiona were unable to access crucial information during the storm. Drover says NS Power is working with radio stations across the province to provide updates as the weekend progresses.

In addition to being ready to respond as quickly as possible, NS Power has been working all year to clear vegetation from power lines in the hopes that they can prevent a significant number of outages like we saw last year.

“Storms are becoming more frequent and severe in Nova Scotia… and because of that we are increasing our investment. We’re increasing the amount of vegetation management that we do every year, trimming trees to remove them from powerlines… We’re spending $32 million on that this year and over $40 million next year,” said Drover.

Hurricane Lee is expected to arrive in Nova scotia Saturday morning, with the southwestern part of the province taking the biggest hit. Meteorologists are forecasting winds gusting over 100 kilometres per hour and over 100 millimeters of rain in some areas.