BC Hydro prepared for geomagnetic storms in Metro Vancouver

Dec 11 2020, 1:50 pm

Though a geomagnetic storm that was forecast for today was downgraded yesterday, BC Hydro said it still prepares for the potential of such events.

“We were expecting a medium/strong storm; however, NOAA downgraded the storm yesterday,” BC Hydro spokesperson Mora Scott told Daily Hive. “Even so, we prepare for all geomagnetic storms.”

Scott said these types of storms go through 11-year cycles “with about 100 events ranging in intensity happening over a decade,” and they can cause serious damage to high voltage transmission systems, leading to outages.

“In the late 80s, one left all of Quebec without power for about nine hours,” said Scott.

That said, “BC Hydro has a good track record of dealing with solar magnetic storms,” she furthered. “We haven’t experienced any damage due to these storms for 30 years, and we don’t expect this storm to be any different.”

Scott said the key to proper preparation “is tracking the space weather forecasting and preparing for these storms so the power grid can be protected.”

“We protect our system by using series capacitors on most of our large transmission lines, which provide a barrier to the Geomagnetically Induced Currents’ path and prevent the spread of any disturbances in our system,” said Scott.

From a customer perspective, “there isn’t anything they can specifically do for these storms,” she noted.

However, “we always encourage our customers to be prepared for outages. They should have a fully stocked emergency kit with things like a flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, food and water.”

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