Power surge blows meters off homes

SAINT JOHN, NEW BRUNSWICK - Several people who live on the lower west side of Saint John want to know if they'll be compensated after their electronics and appliances were damaged by an unusual power surge.

Saint John Energy said it happened when a high voltage wire came loose from a utility pole on Lancaster Ave. The wire connected with a lower voltage wire, which overloaded the line, spiking power in 300 homes before cutting out.

Raymond Beatteay was one of the customers affected. He lives on Duke Street West and said the surge was obvious.

"I picked up my phone to call my sister and everything went — phew — gone," he said.

Saint John Energy said between 30 and 40 meter boxes were destroyed, some of them were blown off of their mounts.

Eric Marr, Saint John Energy's President and CEO, said staff are reviewing what happened.

"If we find there is some fault on the utility then obviously we will address that with our customers," he said.

Since the power surge, many customers say their electronics and appliances are no longer working.

Laura McFadyen's meter box was blown off her home, and she quickly noticed problems when her power was restored.

"Course everyone wanted their TVs on eh, so you want to make sure that's okay," McFadyen said. "I thought it should be okay… power bar, but I turned it on and nothing. So I did what they suggest, I turned the power bar off and waited a few seconds and then turned it back on which should re-engage it — nothing."

John Dunham's meter was spared, but he also found several items in his home damaged after the surge.

"I got no stove, no tv, got no computer, they're just not working," Dunham said.

Dunham and McFadyen are asking Saint John Energy for compensation.

Marr said if the review shows there was a reasonable way to prevent the power surge, the utility may pay customers for damage to their appliances and electronics.


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