Issue: 2015-07-09 Photo: Dan Davidson
Dawson’s YEC plant: The Yukon Energy plant on Fifth Avenue is Dawson’s reliable backup power source when the hydro transmission line fails
My bedside radio screamed this morning. It had gone off with all the other powered devices in the house at about 8:20, putting an end to thoughts of having an immediate shower and getting on with the day. None of our bathrooms have windows and showering in the dark could lead to one of those nasty bathroom accidents those late night commercials warn us about.
The loss of power was spectacular. Lights dimmed, fluttered, surged to unnatural brightness, and then went dark.
Later, Yukon Energy’s Janet Patterson posted a note to the media. The blackout affected Dawson, Faro, Ross River, Carmacks, Pelly Crossing, and Stewart Crossing. Here and in Faro we were back online by 8:40, with other places following within eight minutes. “[The] cause of the outage was a raven in our Faro substation.”
My goodness, that brought back memories. If my memory serves correctly, in the early 1980s that Faro substation was taken offline by a squirrel that totally fried a transformer, turned half its body to charcoal, and left the town dependent on various unreliable strategies during that winter.
My classroom was on the innerring of rooms at Del Van Gorder School and was windowless, so there wasn’t a lot we could do in the dark. Since I was helping one or two students learn to play the guitar after class I had one of mine at school, so I broke it out and we sang folk songs for the half-hour or less that it took the lights to come back on. It was more fun than sitting in the dark trying vainly to carry on with English lessons no one could see.
Power always seems to be restored with a touch of uncertainty in the lighting — a bit of a flicker before it’s fully engaged, not unlike lighting the altar candles at church. This morning there was a bit of that, then what seemed to be an extra luminosity. That’s when the bedside radio kicked in with a screech and then died before picking up The Current — pardon the pun — and getting on with the morning.
On my way to the downstairs shower I reset all the kitchen devices that had timers, and gave thanks that none of them had been burned out by returning power. That used to happen to a lot of people’s microwaves back in our Faro days.
Then the power went out again this afternoon, at 2:20, while I was washing the breakfast and lunch dishes — a task I was able to complete with the available light. The fridge started working again just as I was finishing up. Like the earlier one, it lasted about 20 minutes.
Patterson just emailed to tell me it was only Dawson this time, although the glitch was in Mayo. They had to reset “the brain” there in order to get the Mayo B units to work properly. Now, of course, I have to go reset those clocks again.