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Newfoundland power utility vows upgrades, but won’t guarantee it can avoid blackouts

Linemen replace blown transformers as they attempt to return power to residential customers in St.John's on Jan. 6, 2014.

PAUL DALY/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has promised to add generating capacity and improve its existing equipment to avoid the kind of rolling blackouts that plagued the province earlier this year.

But CEO Ed Martin says he can't guarantee that the power disruptions won't happen again.

An unusual cold snap in early January along with high winds and equipment malfunctions led to both planned and unexpected power failures across the island.

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At one point, 190,000 electricity customers were without power.

Martin says the utility will add 100 megawatts of capacity to the grid on the Avalon Peninsula.

He says Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro will also overhaul some gas turbines, accelerate replacement of 230 electric breakers and there are plans to give the public more notice in case there are more blackouts.

Martin submitted a report to the province's Public Utilities Board on Monday, saying the outages did not have a root cause.

Instead, he says there was a series of unplanned events that are unlikely to occur again.

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