Power Down

This post was written last Friday night during a blackout in Castlegar.

Tonight the power went out. I sit here, internet-less on my laptop while Robyn reads the newspaper by candlelight. (The chicken story was covered in the local paper – we only get two weekly papers here in Castlegar, nearby Trail has a daily, but they would never stoop to write something about Castlegar. I don’t even know if you can buy the Trail Daily Times anywhere in Castlegar.

Anyway, the power’s out, we had a bunch of wind here, the lights flickered earlier while I was cleaning the furnace filter, then we went out for dinner, came back, put the girls to bed, and now the power’s been off for about an hour. Having lived here for over two years now, I think this is the first real outage we’ve experienced. Castlegar is right on the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers, with a handful of significant hydro dams within 30km, it feels like a power-full area, so it is unusual to have an outage like this.

Some of the more realism based responses to the problems of peak oil, climate change and the economy have considered that blackouts like this are likely to become more and more commonplace as the infrastructure crumbles and the ability to transport the parts for repair.

Robyn just wondered out loud how she is going to make a cup of tea tonight.

Reality bites.

Things change when the comforts and conveniences we have come to expect disappear, even just for a few hours. The food in the freezer – is it going to last out the night? Good thing we were planning to eat some of it tomorrow anyway. It’s be early to be tonight – not a bad thing considering how busy we’ve been.

I don’t often write about this sort of experience – it just seemed to be appropriate on a night like this.

Thanks for reading,


Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of UrbanWorkbench.com and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.