Brisco surge investigation winding down

The investigation into a power surge that caused electrical damage in up to 100 homes in the Brisco and Spillimacheen area could wrap up early next week, according to BC Hydro.

The investigation into a power surge that caused electrical damage in up to 100 homes in the Brisco and Spillimacheen area could wrap up early next week, according to BC Hydro.

The surge, part of a June 30 blackout, was caused when a tree came down on hydro lines. While an estimated 12,000 homes were without power for several hours, damage was limited to those served by the Spillimacheen substation, the one nearest to the affected lines.

Early estimates put damage at around $150,000, and a portion of a household electrical system was damaged in at least one case. The BC Safety Authority is now urging all homeowners in the area to hire a licensed electrical contractor to inspect their wiring, according to a release received by the Valley Echo.

Brisco resident David Lahoda, who noticed some damage to his wiring the day of the surge, has already taken the first steps in that process. He says he’s been told all of the ground fault interruptors in his house — which protect against electrical shocks by detecting differences in currents — will need replacing. The surge may also have done permanent damage to his home’s wiring, which could result in an electrical fire in the future.

“My main and big concern is about this damage that’s been done to the electrical wiring in my home and probably other homes as well,” he said.

“There is the damage that we’re aware of, but there’s also this latent damage that could manifest itself in the form of an electrical fire later on.”

The Safety Authority has also asked Lahoda to have a complete electrical resistance test done on the building, which he says will involve a “substantial cost” — though BC Hydro has agreed to waive the disconnection and reconnection fees that would normally be part of the price.

“It’s indicative, I think,that BC Hydro is admitting some culpability in this,” he says.

“I guess I have a small glimmer of hope that they will live up to what they should be doing to correct this.”

While residents have been urged to file electrical damage claims with the utility since the surge, BC Hydro won’t decide whether to pay them until a joint investigation with the Utilities Commission and Safety Authority is completed.

But Diane Tammen, a community relations manager for BC Hydro, says residents should get an answer soon.

“Basically, the investigation is almost completed. It’s in the final stages and we’re anticipating we will be able to provide the details to customers next week,” she said.

“We appreciate the patience that the community has shown us so far, and we’re trying to do the best we can to get back to them as soon as possible. We’re very hopeful that it will be early in the week.”