On the morning of May 13 a farmer drove his air seeder through Eckville, taking down power lines in its wake. The damage took out the power to 741 residents in Eckville. Photo submitted

Farm equipment causing power outages in Central Alberta

According to Fortis Alberta the number of outages caused by farm equipment is on the rise

More than 700 residents of Eckville were without power on Sunday after a farmer drover his air seeder through town.

The large piece of machinery downed power lines and affected a few poles Sunday morning.

Fortis Alberta dispatched power line technicians to Eckville to work on restoring power to those effected.

According to Mona Bartsoff with Fortis Alberta, some were without power for upwards of 12 hours.

“The power went to before 10 a.m. on Sunday,” Bartsoff said in a phone interview, adding the exact time was 9:46 a.m.. “Most were restored by 4:33 p.m. in the afternoon and complete restoration and repair was completed at 8:50 p.m.”

This incident isn’t the only one if its kind. Over the past few weeks few weeks Fortis Alberta has received calls of a similar nature.

Bartsoff says the number of similar incidents has been on the rise over the last few years.

Large pieces of farming equipment, such as the air seeder that downed power lines in Eckville on May 13, are a large concern for the power company.

“I think farmers don’t realize how big their equipment is, and that the size of it have just about doubled since the 1950s,” said Bartsoff.

It is important for farmers, and anyone hauling, to know the size of their load as well as the route they are taking.

If the equipment being moved is more than 5.3 metres in height it is recommended the hauler calls the energy supplier, in this case Fortis Alberta, to plan the best route.

“We will work with the farmer, or whoever is moving the equipment, to plan the best and safest route possible.”

A piece of equipment should not come within seven metre of a power line while being moved.

In a situation like this, safety is the main concern for Fortis Alberta. A downed power line is a dangerous thing, and can be a safety concern not only for the general public but also the person driving the tractor.

The second concern is restoring power to the public in a timely fashion.

“The tractor caused a lot of damage, and it took us nearly 12 hours to remedy the situation,” said Bartsoff.

A safety concern is how people react to a downed line as well.

Bartsoff says it is important for the public to know what to do when they come across a downed power line.

“You need to stay at least 10 metres away from a downed line. The line could electrify the area around it.”

If you see a downed power line the first step is to call 911 and then the energy supplier, Fortis Alberta.

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