Power outages: Lower mainland BC = third world?

We just had another power outage exceeding an hour in duration here at our house. That makes about six this year here after perhaps one per year of that duration during the seven previous years. You could argue, I guess, that I live in a suburb, and so perhaps the occasional power outage is to be expected. However, at my workplace in the heart of the corporate district in Burnaby, with BCIT on one side of the road and Telus/IBM/etc on the other, there have been three multi-hour outages this year as well. I know it is an exaggeration bordering on the insensitive, but I’m beginning to feel like BC Hydro has degraded lower mainland British Columbia into a third world power district.

I’m sure there is some sound explanation for the increase in outages. Probably it is merely a hiccup, disruptions in the midst of some sort of planned upgrade. But if this is true, I’m missing the appropriately-worded press releases from our power supplier, BC Hydro. There have also been several lengthy power outages in downtown Vancouver, including one a few months ago that pretty much shut down the city core for half a day. You’d think that BC Hydro would be front and center, letting us know that this is a brief aberration, something to be endured on the way to a better and more robust power delivery system.

My inner cynic is beginning to think that these outages are the signs of a poorly maintained, underfunded, and over-extended infrastructure. That little voice inside me is saying that BC Hydro isn’t explaining the outages because there is no good explanation: the power system is failing, and they have no plans to fix it. But that couldn’t be: we live in one of the most expensive, heavily taxed regions of the world, there is no way that the funding for basic necessities like power and water could have been overlooked…. is there?

On the plus side, my UPS for my server worked fine, although I identified a couple of weak spots: notably, one of my network switches isn’t on the UPS. If this keeps up, I’ll have to give serious thought to setting up some longer-term stand by power. Maybe go dig my own well, and start growing a crop in the back yard, and a couple cows in the front yard, plus maybe a chicken for eggs. Think of how much richer our life would be if one of the developed nations sent us a pig to fatten up for market! I can only dream…

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