Capital Power’s Island Generation facility, a natural gas power plant, went off-line following a BC Hydro equipment failure on the night of March 23, 2019. Google Maps image

UPDATED: ‘Sounds like a thousand helicopters landing’: Faulty transmission line caused booming noise, flickering lights

Natural gas power plant went off-line following BC Hydro equipment failure

A booming noise that disturbed some local residents on Saturday night was caused by a faulty transmission line near the Island Generation power plant in Campbell River, according to officials from BC Hydro and Capital Power.

“On Saturday night, the Island Generation facility went off-line due to a BC Hydro transmission line fault,” said Stephen Watson, a spokesperson for BC Hydro. “We had an equipment failure on the transmission line that connects the facility to the wider grid system.”

Island Generation is a natural gas power plant owned by Capital Power, an Edmonton-based energy company. The transmission line where the fault occurred is near the Campbell River facility, Watson said.

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On social media, residents reported a thundering noise. One Facebook user said “sounded like a bloody rocket ship taking off,” while another said it “sounds like a thousand helicopters landing.”

There were also reports of flickering lights as TVs and other devices suddenly switched off on Saturday night.

Some residents speculated that a forecasted solar storm was to blame, but the Weather Network reported on Sunday that the storm hadn’t arrived by the time of the power disruption.

Watson said Saturday night’s equipment failure caused what he described as a “bump” in the system, or brief fluctuations in power that “may have caused our customers’ lights to flicker.”

He noted that BC Hydro’s “protection and control works kick in when a fault of the system takes place.”

Crews were dispatched on Sunday and repairs were made by Sunday evening. By Monday, the Island Generation plant was operating at full load, Watson said.

In an email statement, Capital Power confirmed BC Hydro’s account of the incident.

“The sound was caused by a fault on the transmission system, causing the BC Hydro transmission protection system to trip the Island Generation facility off the grid,” said Katherine Perron, a spokesperson for Capital Power.

She said the company’s operational processes were “effective in minimizing the impact of the fault.”

The incident posed no risk to employees or the public, Perron said. She confirmed that the plant is “back online and operating at full load.”

This story was updated on Tuesday morning with a statement from Capital Power and other information.


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