BC Hydro cut off power to customers in the Ucluelet Peninsula, southeast of the Highway 4 junction between Tofino and Ucluelet, on March 22 due to a damaged transmission pole. (Kevstan/Wikimedia Commons photo)
Over 2,000 residents in Ucluelet and the Ucluelet First Nation are without power this afternoon after a vehicle crashed into a hydro pole early in the morning near the Highway 4 junction.
Electricty was shut off for Ucluelet and Hitacu at noon as a BC Hydro crew replace a damaged pole that was struck at approximately 2 a.m.
“The power wasn’t knocked out, but the pole was severely damaged. Crews responded and they braced the pole and mustered crews for an outage to start at noon,” said BC Hydro spokesperson Karla Louwers. “This is a badly damaged pole that needed to be replaced for public safety and the security of the power system.”
According to the Ucluelet RCMP, the driver and passenger left the incident with minor injuries after the vehicle lost control travelling from Tofino to Ucluelet, crashing into the pole.
Power is estimated to be off until 6 p.m. today, allowing workers to safely amend the situation. The damaged pole supports two lines that provide power to over 1,600 Ucluelet residents, plus approximately 440 customers on the nearby First Nation, according to BC Hydro.
Louwers said the pole supported transmission for all BC Hydro customers living southeast of the Highway 4 junction.
“It was a pole that carried two circuits that served essentially that entire east side,” she said, adding that in the morning BC Hydro customers received a telephone message announcing the outage. “We tried to notify customers as quickly as possible with an auto-dialer system.”
Ucluelet last experienced power outages on a few occasions in January, when winter storms caused trees fell on lines.
“There’s a transmission line from Port Alberni to our substation at the junction, so there’s no other source of power if something severs that transmission line,” said Louwers.
She added that the vehicle incident shows that power can be cut off to the west coast communities at any time of the year, making preparations for a blackout essential. This could include using a corded telephone in the home, having working flashlights and ensuring important medical equipment has a backup supply of power.