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Manitoba declares emergency following storm-related outages

The government of Manitoba declared a state of emergency on Oct. 13 following a severe winter storm that caused extensive damage to electric transmission and distribution networks.

With the declaration, provincial government-owned utility Manitoba Hydro for the first time ever asked for mutual aid from other utilities to help restore service.

"Sections of our transmission and distribution system are completely destroyed, and will require a total rebuild before coming back online," Manitoba Hydro CEO Jay Grewal said in a news release Oct. 13. The morning of Oct. 14, nearly 21,000 customers were without service, particularly around Portage la Prairie, west of the provincial capital of Winnipeg.

Later on Oct. 14, the company said it had found multiple collapsed steel transmission towers and more than 1,000 wood poles broken each in the Interlake region of the province and around Portage la Prairie.

"This is damage on a scale never before seen in Manitoba," Grewal said, adding that full restoration isn't expected for another seven to 10 days.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said the utility had requested help from Ontario's Hydro One Ltd., which said it was sending about two dozen workers; SaskPower; and ALLETE Inc. subsidiary Minnesota Power Inc., with which Manitoba Hydro is partnering on new major electric transmission infrastructure.