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Newfoundland's rolling blackouts expected to end Thursday after cold increases power demand

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


Newfoundland's electric utilities were forced to resume rolling blackouts Wednesday as temperatures plunged and repairs to a generating station took longer than expected.

However, officials from both utilities said the outages weren't expected to extend into Thursday as the electric grid was poised to stabilize overnight after several days of turmoil caused by a blizzard, freezing temperatures and mechanical failures.

"I'm confident that we will return to full system stability tonight and into tomorrow," Ed Martin, CEO of Crown-owned Nalcor Energy, told a news conference in St. John's.

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At the peak of the power shortages Saturday, about 190,000 customers were without power.

The outages began Thursday night but ended Monday after temperatures rose and there was less strain on the province's energy grid.

The power shortages also led to school closures throughout the island, but the province's Education Minister announced they will reopen Thursday.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale thanked residents for doing their best to conserve energy, but she said they shouldn't stop doing so as temperatures were forecast to plunge again.

Meanwhile, the province's consumer advocate is calling for an investigation into why the province's electricity grid failed so spectacularly.

The premier said she will be talking with her officials about a probe on Thursday.

"I have no issue with openness and accountability around this issue," she said. "We want to know what went wrong. And we want to do everything we can to ensure that we don't find ourselves in this circumstance again."

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