Great Village, Colchester County home deals with power concerns

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GREAT VILLAGE, N.S. — Flickering lights, a whining electric heat system and other issues meant Great Village homeowner Mike Cooke would become well acquainted with electricians and other service technicians over the last year.

Cooke was speaking out recently about a situation that started roughly a year ago after he and his wife moved into their newly built home (September 2021) on Station Road, about a minute’s drive from Exit 10 off Hwy. 104.

Cooke explained he has an on-demand boiler for hot water and in-floor heating in the home.

“When we first got the heating system installed and hooked up, the contacts in the electric boiler were making a whining noise when it was running,” Cooke said. “I talked to a contractor, and he told me that was a potential fire hazard, so I got the heating guy back in. He looked it over but couldn’t find anything wrong with it. After that, he got the manufacturer of the heating system in, he looked it over, couldn’t find anything wrong with it, but still, they put a new set of points in any way.”

With issues such as lights dimming when the water pump from the well kicked in or when the washing machine was running, Cooke called the electrician who had wired the home.

“It was stuff happening that shouldn’t be happening in this day and age,” he said while questioning what impact it was having on his systems and newly purchased appliances; as in, was it hurting their operating life?

After a couple of visits by the electrician, he told Cooke that there was no problem with the house and the wiring – that it was more a power coming into the house concern.

To double check on that analysis, Cooke called another electrician who brought with him an energy monitor and basically confirmed the first electrician’s conclusion.

Cooke shared the monitor’s readings as explained to him by the electrician.

“It’s a digital readout of your power; how many volts are coming through. On a weekday through the day, when none of the neighbours are around or anything, I’m getting a good solid 120 volts. But in the evening when people are coming home around me and using stuff, my voltage is dropping at times to 109 volts coming into my house,” Cooke said.

“The other thing I was told was, any under voltage on anything with an electric motor, that includes all my new appliances in here – washer, dryer, fridge, heating system – it will burn it up.”

The next calls were to Nova Scotia Power which he was already calling about a downed streetlight in the area caused by Tropical Storm Fiona. In early December, they arrived in the area and did a scope. NS Power said the scope reveals a second transformer is required for customers in the area.

“Back in the spring of 2021, during the scoping of this work request, the planner created a design based on the assessment of the number of customers in the Great Village area who were served from the transformer at the time, as well as an estimate of additional customers who may be added to that transformer in the near future. The planner deemed a second transformer was not required at that time,” said NS Power communications advisor Mina Atia.

“Due to a rescoping of the number of customers who are now served from this transformer, we are going to install a second transformer as soon as possible.”

Both the transformer and streetlight were put up at the end of last week.

Cooke questions if it needs one now, why didn’t it need one back when the scope was done in the spring since he is the “latest house on the street.”

“Think about my situation, I did spend thousands of dollars on appliances – every appliance in this house is brand new,” he said. “If they all fail prematurely because of this, what is the true cost of doing business with NS Power? It will be five, six, seven years down the road and nobody will know what the life expectancy would have been … there will be no way to ever say this is what happened.

“I just wonder how often this problem comes up across the province?” 

Power line transformers in a residential neighbourhood in Truro. – Richard MacKenzie

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