© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Dan MacRae, centre and Grant Boswall, check their bags with Air Canada customer service representative Allan Bagley at the Charlottetown Airport before going to Newfoundland to help power crews restore power.
Half a dozen Maritime Electric workers returned home to Prince Edward Island this weekend after helping restore power to a storm-battered Newfoundland.
Six power line technicians arrived home Saturday night after working in the St. John’s area Thursday and Friday.
Official spokesperson Kim Griffin said the endeavor went well with most Newfoundland customers having had power restored before the P.E.I. crew arrived.
The crew provided relief to exhausted Newfoundland crews while also helping complete other work that was put on hold due to the storm.
“Our crews knew the system and worked with closely with Newfoundland Power to do some of the other important work,” Griffin said. “Line repairs, power line poles, they generally worked about 14 hours a day.”
On Jan. 2, Newfoundland began getting hit by days of rolling blackouts, a transformer fire and a power-plant malfunction all during storms and bitter cold weather.
At the peak of problems, 190,000 customers were without power in the province of 527,000 residents.
Griffin said Newfoundland workers and customers were supportive of the P.E.I. crew’s efforts.
“It was a very tough time for the people of Newfoundland with the power outages and rolling blackouts. I think people were really glad to see our crews here to help,” said Griffin. “The people of Newfoundland were very hospitable and appreciative, the way I imagine Islanders would be.”
It wasn’t the first time a P.E.I. crew has gone to help out another province this winter.
A crew of 12 Maritime Electric staff went to New Brunswick on Dec. 26 to help restore power after a massive load of freezing rain cut power to more than 50,000 customers. They returned home on Jan. 2, just as Newfoundland started getting hit with the blackouts.
Griffin said the Atlantic provinces all have a mutual aid agreement in place.
“We agree to help each other out but it depends on what is happening in our own region. It was important to make sure we had enough crew for whatever happened here,” she said. “We were fortunate with minimal power outages compared to other regions during the past couple of weeks.”