On one of the first nights of winter weather, after 24 hours of freezing rain and then snow in southwest Manitoba, a portion of Virden lost power. The next day, some customers found office equipment that couldn’t be revived.
At about 9:00 p.m. Tuesday evening everything went dark in the downtown due to an equipment failure when Manitoba Hydro crews were de-icing power lines.
A spokesperson on behalf of Manitoba Hydro Bruce Owen explained, “The weight of ice can put a lot of stress on power lines and damage equipment, causing outages. To prevent a sudden outage, we melt or roll ice depending on current temperatures, weather conditions, the amount of ice build-up, location, length and configuration of lines, and our ability to isolate selected lines.
“On Tuesday, we commenced a brief ice-melting operation…. Ice-melting involves a controlled short-circuit placed at one end of a line. The current flow creates a temperature increase that heats up the line and melts the ice.
“Two crews of three to four people each (one crew working outside on the equipment and the other crew working in a control room) can melt the ice off 30 to 50 kilometres of line in about three hours, often with no customer outages.
“In this instance, we experienced equipment failure during the ice melt.”
Owen said that 472 customers were without service for approximately 15 minutes. The remaining 322 customers were restored as of 10:41 p.m.However, it was not without damage. Some office equipment in Virden’s downtown will have to be replaced.