Dealing with the dark
Northerners sit tight when the lights go out

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 20/97) - Electricity. It's hard to imagine life without it.

It keeps us warm, it powers our television sets, radios, it helps us see our way in the dark of night.

But what happens when the lights go out when we least expect it?

While most people will wait patiently, like Veronica Aloiut of Hall Beach, who waited at work while the power was out last Tuesday during a wind storm, others try to use the down-time to do something more productive. Like getting together with family and talking about the good old days.

"I grab a flashlight and just talk about the past, like when we were kids, with my older brother," said Barney Aggak, 17, of Chesterfield Inlet.

Besides a little chit chat, Aggak said he gets a kick out of watching the youngsters in the house walking into doors and walls. "It's a lot of fun."

Chesterfield Inlet's Bobby Mukpah, 15, also enjoys the quiet time but would prefer to get together with friends and hang out.

The number of black-outs vary from year to year in the North.

One of the worst years was the winter of 1994-95, according to the NWT Power Corporation. Of 8,760 available hours of electricity, 202 hours were lost because of outages, which means the North had power 96.2 per cent of the time.

In 1995-96 NWT Power Corp. ran at full force 97.9 per cent of the time, 99 per cent in 1996-1997 and up to June of this year, the figure stood at 99.5 per cent.

These outage figures reflect total time taken to bring all customers on line.

"When the power's out the pressure is really on," said Bill Braden, director of corporate development and public relations for NWT Power.

When the power goes out, Braden has a few words of advice for customers.

First they should pull the plug on all special equipment at home and in the office including computers, Xerox machines, faxes, televisions and VCRs.

"These machines are very sensitive electronically," he said. "Damage can happen when the power comes back on."

Braden said it takes a few minutes for technicians to stabilize the quality of power after an outage.

So it's imperative then that a person wait a few minutes before plugging these appliances back in because if it breaks, it may be your fault.