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Cowichan Bay residents powerless over ongoing mystery electricity outages

Prenevost and the rest of the community is fed up.
Residents of Cowichan Bay, including Island Farmhouse Poultry’s Doug Prenevost, are unhappy with a series of power outages. (Photo courtesy

A Cowichan Bay business operator is crying foul after enduring multiple power outages, several days in a row for seemingly no reasonable cause.

Island Farmhouse Poultry’s Doug Prenevost said his company is losing money in electrical components and he’s also concerned for staff safety and the welfare of the chickens at his processing plant each time the juice is jammed.

“Every time it happens, our business has phoned BC Hydro and they say they’ll pass it along and we don’t hear back from them,” Prenevost said.

The power has gone out three days in a row — always between 7 and 7:30 a.m. — and sometimes turns on and off upwards of six times within that half-hour span.

“As a large business affected by these daily occurrences it is costing us thousands of dollars in electrical components with these start up and shutdowns, not to mention safety issues with our workers operating machinery,” he said. “And the other problem is that because we are a processing plant, we do chickens, it becomes a welfare issue for the birds. We’ve got all this equipment starting and stopping. We’ve got 45 people working inside a building with no windows. It goes pitch black.”

Prenevost said he’s talked to neighbours down the street who’ve lost their television sets and other electronics due to the surges so he knows he’s not the only one.

“There’s other people that are having the same issues,” he said. “It’s all around Cowichan Bay. They say, ‘We’ll get someone to give you a call’ and we don’t hear anything.”

More than 100 comments have been posted on a local Cowichan Bay community Facebook group complaining of the ongoing issues and how it’s ruining electronics and interfering with daily life like doing laundry and working remotely.

Prenevost and the rest of the community is fed up.

“BC Hydro needs to address this. There is obviously a problem so at the least have the courtesy to acknowledge it and let the affected customers know what the issues are, and steps being taken to correct the ongoing problem.”

The BC Hydro website shows outages in the area during the times Prenevost noted on Oct. 6, Oct. 7, and Oct. 8. Most of the outage causes were under investigation but one was a tree on the lines.

BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk noted the outages were indeed vegetation related on Oct. 8 but said they’re still working on what it happening the other times.

“We’re very aware of some issues on that line in that area,” Olynyk said. “We’re investigating. We know there’s been some trouble on the line. They’ve patrolled it, they’re doing some investigative work, they’re going to be doing further work. We don’t suspect it’s related to vegetation; we are going to do some more vegetation work just to make sure.”

In his 20 years of doing his job, Olynyk said on occasion, areas have been known to be the targets of a unfortunate series of events, say for example, a high wind that knocks trees onto the lines, then a bird on the lines, then a motor vehicle incident all back to back.

“We apologize for the outages and the inconvenience,” he said. “We appreciate everybody’s patience, we know it’s not easy.”

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Sarah Simpson

About the Author: Sarah Simpson

I started my time with Black Press Media as an intern, before joining the Citizen in the summer of 2004.
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