The lights were out quite early for local residents on Wednesday evening after an unplanned power outage swept the region by surprise. Another dip into darkness early Thursday morning had people wondering just what was going on.
Joel Cherry with SaskPower media relations had an eye-popping statistic when asked about the recent outages.
"Pretty substantial area definitely. I think we had a total of about 22,000 customers off."
Two transmission lines tripped last night to cause the prolonged outages according to Cherry. There were issues with the switching stations as well, as Cherry described the difference between the transmission and distribution lines.
"When transmission outages occur, they tend to affect a larger area than distribution outages." he started, "The difference between transmission and distribution is that transmission lines are the large, higher voltage lines that carry power over large distances. Like from generating facilities to switching stations and sub stations. Typically, if you see them out in the country, they are large two pole structures."
Distribution lines on the other hand are the ones you might notice in town in your back alley, carrying way less responsibility.
"When a distribution line goes down it affects the customers fed off that line. When a transmission line goes down, it affects all the customers on all the distribution lines attached to that transmission."
Cherry shared that the lines went off overnight around 2:00 AM, and the power was restored by 7:00 AM this morning, even though they still aren't sure what caused the loss of power.
When asked why the power might have gone off last night, Cherry shared a bit more on the switching system utilized by SaskPower.
"Sometimes when we are dealing with transmission lines they will go off, and we are able to restore them by switching. Remotely we are able to switch the lines back on, and then they will go off again because of an issue we haven't been able to identify yet." said Cherry. This is likely what occurred. "Sometimes on these lines they can go off and on, and it's likely the outages yesterday afternoon was related to the ones overnight."
Typically, when damage is done thanks to weather or other destruction methods, switching is used while they work to fix it. They are still looking into exactly what happened, and thanked the thousands of customers effected for being patient as there is never an ideal time for the power to go out.
"It's a bit different when something like this occurs, opposed to when a tree comes down on a line outside of your house, or if there is a thunderstorm or a blizzard or whatever where you can see the line come down. It certainly is a bit different because of the nature of our system."
Anyone west of Saskatoon, north of Leader, and south of Neilburg will likely be interested to learn just why the lights went out.