Fires on SaskPower ROW

Res #: 18-06A
Number: 18
Year: 2006
Midterm: No
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: SaskPower

Resolution No. 18-06A

WHEREAS, there have been a number of fires in RMs that have been ignited by trees falling on power lines; and

WHEREAS, the farmer becomes responsible for costs and damages incurred when SaskPower determines the tree causing the fire was from outside of the right-of-way (ROW); and

WHEREAS, the height of common vegetation in areas of Saskatchewan is well over the currently allowed 10 metre SaskPower ROW;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SaskPower assume responsibility for costs and damages caused by vegetation contacting power lines or be required to adjust their ROW to accommodate a district's common vegetation height.

Response from the Honourable John T. Nilson, Q.C., Minister Responsible for SaskPower:

SaskPower Damage Claim Guidelines indicate that SaskPower will provide compensation where SaskPower has been negligent in the construction, operation and maintenance of its facilities. SaskPower does not compensate customers when the cause of damage is for a reason beyond SaskPower's control. Tree contacts, weather, accidents, wildlife contacts, and equipment failure can cause power outages and fires, and are beyond SaskPower's control. Any compensation is subject to restrictions on liability as outlines in The Power Corporation Act. This is not unlike the situation with utilities in other jurisdictions.

SaskPower has discussed its guidelines with interested parties, including the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, while dealing with specific incidents. During these discussions, SaskPower regularly reminds these parties of the importance of insurance. If SaskPower was required to pay all fire fighting invoices, regardless of the cause of the fire, the cost would be significant to SaskPower.

SaskPower typically acquires 10 metre easements for overhead rural distribution lines (25kV or lower) and easement widths for electrical transmission lines (72kV or higher) are typically 30 – 40 metres. Where pole lines are constructed on road allowances, SaskPower has a statutory right to overhang adjacent lands. The right to cut or trim trees on private property adjacent to a powerline, whether on or off the right of way, for safety related issues, also exists due to a recent change in the Saskatchewan Power Corporation Act. SaskPower is not liable for damage claims for trees contacting its line as it takes reasonable care in fulfilling its obligations to service power lines and trim trees along rights of way.