With Dry Winter, Ground Shifting Damage Continues in Regina - Extremely Low Fire Risk

May 29, 2018

Environment Canada has shown that the last twelve months brought one of the driest years on record for Saskatchewan. For areas with clay soil, especially in and around Regina, this has meant continuing ground shifting and pulling on electrical wiring. SaskPower crews continue to inspect thousands of homes with underground service and make repairs. More than half of those inspected have required some form of repair.

“In 2017, our first priority was every underground service in Regina installed in the 60s and 70s,” said SaskPower’s Director of Operations and Maintenance (south) Donavon Nelson. “Those homes with a copper wire service had little slack and when the ground would pull out the wiring, that metal would allow electricity to keep flowing and start a small fire at the back of the house. We’ve inspected 17,000 services, and it’s now very unlikely there is an uninspected power box at risk of an incident with fire in the city.”

The work has now passed to other underground services in Regina. These have aluminum wiring that, when damaged, melts and stops the flow of electricity.

“This means there could still be incidents, especially with our very dry winter,” said Nelson. “But these would only involve some smoke and arcing sounds contained to the power box, resulting in an outage. Ground shifting will continue to be an issue and we will be ready for it.”

As a permanent fix, SaskPower has been installing expansion boxes to customer homes. These add an extra metre of slack wiring, allowing more than enough to account for extreme ground shifting. SaskPower is also developing a long-term plan to inspect Regina homes with underground service, starting with older homes that have smaller models of power boxes. These have less slack available for settling, and can be more prone to ground shifting damage. Additionally, all new builds in the province will include the expansion box.

#PowerToGrow

June is National Electricity Month. Electricity goes hand in hand with quality of life and SaskPower is participating in the Canadian Electricity Association’s activities all month long. To learn more, visit www.electricity.ca.

At a glance...

  • SaskPower has inspected 17,000 homes that were at risk of an incident with fire and eliminated the possibility
  • Incidents may still happen, but will be contained to the power box, with popping and some smoke
  • Long-term, SaskPower will be inspecting every part of the city (4,000 more in 2018)

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