The unreported near-collapse of a stretch of Manitoba Hydro's power lines in Northern Manitoba could have been more of a disaster than anyone knows.
We've dug out more details from transcripts of the Public Utilities Board's recent hearings. The transcripts run on average more than 200 pages a day, so it was only by chance we ran across the story of the close call that almost blacked out the province.
It happened this past January, and not last year as we first thought.
If the situation hadn't been caught in the nick of time, Manitoba would have been plunged into a blackout at exactly the moment we use the most power to heat our homes.
Last year's heavy rains resulted in extremely high water levels along the Nelson River. When winter came, it turned to ice. Heavy ice.
Ten feet of ice built up on one tower, causing a guy wire to snap. If the tower had fallen, it would have pulled down 18 other towers.
The leaning tower was spotted by accident and Hydro rushed in repair crews, including divers. While repairs were underway, Hydro cut off all exports coming south through that stretch of the transmission line.
Hydro officials told the PUB the emergency repairs cost in the range of $2.5 million and Manitoba lost another $2 million in sales to the U.S. Permanent repairs will add to the bill when it warms up enough to do them.
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